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San Francisco, California 

From the collection of the 


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Edward H. Gooch, Ltd., London 

While millions of people on both sides of the Atlantic listened, 

the voice of King George V welcomed delegates to the Five 

Power Naval Conference 


Hello America! 

T^adio ^Adventures in Europe 




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'The time will come, and that presently, when, by making 
use of the magnetic waves that permeate the ether which sur- 
rounds our world, we shall communicate with the Antipodes.' 

JOSEPH GLANVILL, The Vanity of Dogmatizing, 1661 


WHAT do you do all day?' is a question which sym- 
pathetic visitors to my office in London used to ask. 
'What sort of work is it? How can you spend all your time 
in Europe, working for American radio? Do you broadcast 
yourself; if so, why don't we hear it over here? 1 

This book tries to answer these questions, to tell how the 
foreign radio representative a breed of which I happened 
to be the first whiles away the heavy hours. For seven 
years it was said by some of my friends that I wouldn't 
speak to anyone less than three thousand miles away. I 
want to assure them that this was not due to uppishness but 
to genuine preoccupation. 

In telling my story I do not pretend to completeness. 
Others have done as much, and more, for transatlantic radio, 
for narrowing the spiritual distance between the two great 
continents of the west. For nearly two years I had the 
field almost to myself: those were the 'creative' years. 
Then, in the heat of competition, many things emerged out 
of the flow of world events, of news, of interests often 
ephemeral but none the less exciting or amusing, as the 
case may be. 

It is the privilege and the merit of broadcasting to have 
drawn within its orbit the leading and significant person- 
alities of contemporary life. These personalities have given 
content to an otherwise soulless machine; it is through 
personalities and personages that I have tried to 
interpret the somewhat confused activities of these tur- 
bulent years. The purely informative chapters on the 
methods and the structure of international broadcasting 

Foreword and ^Acknowledgment 

have been relegated to the last section of the book, together 
with those general conclusions and speculations which not 
even the most matter-of-fact person could forego, if he had 
for a considerable time been on the inside of the most as- 
tounding mechanism ever devised by the human brain. 
Those who don't care for plain, factual information, or for 
the wider implications which reside in all functions, mani- 
festations and appearances, may stop short of Part IV, which 
I consider the most important part of the book. 

Acknowledgments, then, are due first of all to my inquiring 
friends. Beyond that I am grateful to the heads of the 
Columbia Broadcasting System for affording me the leisure 
to write this book; to the British Broadcasting Corporation 
for allowing me to use its library and some of its documentary 
information, as well as for the untiring courtesy of its staff; 
to my friendly rivals, Fred Bate and Max Jordan, of the 
National Broadcasting Company, for essential information 
concerning their own European activities; to the officials of 
the broadcasting administrations of the principal European 
countries, and in particular to Mr. Arthur E. Burrows, 
secretary-general of the International Broadcasting Union, 
for their cordial co-operation in the various endeavors which 
form the substance of my tale. 

I want to take this opportunity to thank Frederic William 
Wile for inveigling me into broadcasting, and Henry Adams 
Bellows for clinching the deal. Finally I am beholden to 
my successor, Edward R. Murrow, for access to his records, 
and no words of gratitude can ever repay the unremitting 
helpfulness and generous loyalty of that paragon of secre- 
taries, Miss Kathryn Campbell. In the planning of this 
volume I had the benefit of valuable counsel from Ernestine 
Evans, while Raymond Gram Swing and Morris Gilbert read 
the manuscript with discernment tempered by friendly for- 


NEW YORK, January ', 1938 



Part One: People 


A New Medium for Transatlantic News The First World Broad- 
cast Radio's First 'Ambassador' Enter, the Prince of Wales. 


'Nation Shall Speak Peace unto Nation* The 'Autocrat' of the 
B.B.C. Lord Cecil and Lord Grey Scientific Pacifist; Paci- 
fistic Scientist Dick Sheppard of St. Paul's Lord Snowden 
Hits Out President Roosevelt Stirs Britain 'Transatlantic 


Literature Takes a Hand The Poet Speaks Mike-Shy Genius 
Wells Looks at Things to Come Chesterton on Christmas 
Priestley and the Highbrows Best-Sellers at Work. 


The Funniest Joke in the World How to Get Freedom of 
Speech Shaw and Einstein at Dinner 'A Little Talk About 
Russia' Radio Satirist No. i Facing the 'Boobs.' 


Vatican City Asserts its Sovereignty Marconi Builds a Super- 
Station Hearst Takes an Interest The Monsignore Who 
Gets the News 'Contact Old Gentleman Direct!' Golden 
Microphone and Silver Trumpets. 

xii Contents 


Mussolini Thinks it Over 'Fourteen Years of Shame' Dicta- 
tors Need Crowds Papa Doumergue Tries it on The Great- 
est Telltale in the World. 


Democracy's New Instrument The Tragedy of Ramsay 
England's Baldwin Ireland's 'Dev' Liberator Masaryk 
Quotes Liberator Washington Frenchmen Should Speak Eng- 
lish Herriot to Flandin France's 'New Deal' Not Safe 
for Stuffed Shirts. 


The Wooden Field Marshal and the Real One Hindenburg 
Invokes the Deity Hindenburg's Dream 'You Stole Our 
Kaiser!' Hohenzollern or Hitler? Goering Waxes Pious. 


Revolutionists on the Move How to Talk to a Saint Sir Sam- 
uel Hoare Takes a Chance Gandhi 'Unites' the U.S.A. 'Do 
I Talk into this Thing?' A Plea for India's Millions. 


The Lion is at Large! A Bolshevik's Odyssey Pope of the 
World Revolution Prime Minister Stauning Clears the Lines 
Trotsky Takes his Coat Off. 


'Just an Ordinary Fellow' George V Discovers a New Power 
'This Great Family' Three Kings Plead for Sanity King Al- 
bert's Little Joke Wilhelmina Speaks; Juliana Makes Radio 


The 'Prince's Own' Studio The First Royal Broadcast in His- 
tory War, Empire, Remembrance Discovering Misery 
Unemployment and Social Service 'Lecturing' Big Business 
King Edward Calls the Empire. 

Contents xiii 

Part Two: Events 


Entertainment versus News Dr. Yen Arraigns Japan The 
'Kidnapping' of Amelia Earhart La Coupe Davis Olympic 
Games on the Air Elections: Radio's Big Chance. 


Vienna Celebrates Brahms Dollfuss Tells America The War 
Begins in Munich Dollfuss 'Explains' the Bloodshed A 
Dictator's Death. 


How Nazis Handle a Plebiscite Geoffrey Knox's 'Terror* 
Hitler Decrees Silence A Frenchman Gets Disgusted Heil! 
Heil! Heil! 


Floyd Gibbons: First War Broadcaster Haile Selassie Calling 
The Imperial Band on the Run In the Spanish Firing Line 
Madrid Broadcasts from a Bomb-Proof Cellar. 

The Royal Romance 'Not a Matter for Broadcasting' Ex- 
plaining to America Setting the Stage We Scoop the World 

Edward's Farewell. 

The 'American System' in Europe Laval Sails for the U.S.A. 

How King Carol did not Broadcast Two Networks That 
Beat as One New York Welcomes the 'Queen.' 

Part Three: Atmospheres 


Pro and Con Toastmaster, Sports, and the Nightingale 
Wordsworth's Birds and Shakespeare's Flowers Curfew Still 
Rings Fifty Thousand Dollars' Worth of Coronation The 
Man in the Street Lets Himself Go. 

xiv Contents 


Vienna is Still Gay Mozart and Leather Breeches Poland's 
Broken Melody The City of the Dead Venice, California, 
Hears Venice, Italy Rien ne vaplus! Holland's Silent Charms 

What Price Grandeur? 


They Can't be Wrong Jean Patou Talks to the Ladies Bas- 
tille Day on Montmartre Charm plus Speed Equals Efficiency 

Miss Liberty Celebrates Two Presidents and a Phonograph. 


Midnight Sun by Radio The Finns and Their Epic Holy 
Week in Seville The Bells of Bethlehem Folksongs in Many 


Mike-Shy Veteran No Papier, no Broadcast The Case of Baron 
Aloisi Modern Music, Vesuvius, and Short Wave. 

Part Four: Systems and Policies 


Pre-War Beginnings Dividing up the Air How European 
Radio is Run Germany Italy Russia Great Britain 
The Enfant Terrible of Europe France and Europe's Little 


The Ancient 'Champion' and Modern Equivalent Is the 
Air Free? Across the Frontiers The Race for Power 
'Moral Disarmament' Ballyhoo by Short Wave The Modern 
Tower of Babel The Voice of the League. 


The Race between Science and Politics Radio in War 
Democracy's Chance. 

INDEX 3 89 


While millions of people on both sides of the Atlantic 
listened, the voice of King George V welcomed delegates 
to the Five Power Naval Conference Frontispiece 

Viscount Cecil of Chelwood 22 

Shaw's ' You dear old boobs/ the only talk, thus far, addressed 
to America alone 58 

Wells talked about 'The World of Our Grandchildren* in 
the first American broadcast of his career 58 

For the first time in history, a Pope's voice was heard by the 
world at large 78 

The excitement of a demagogue's speech is provided by the 
background mob. Dictators are not anxious to speak their 
lines in the quiet of a studio 88 

MacDonald liked broadcasting it was a modern thing and 
he fancied himself as a modern 94 

In Stanley Baldwin's broadcast, America got a sample of 
quiet British oratory at its best 94 

Masaryk was a democratic statesman who used the radio, not 
in the establishment of a regime, but in its consolidation 104 

De Valera faced an incredibly primitive-looking microphone 
contraption 104 

Trotsky's Copenhagen broadcast, November, 1932 142 

xvi Illustrations 

Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands discovered the radio as 
a means of reaching her distant East Indian subjects 158 

March, 1936, when for the first time a reigning British king 
came to Broadcasting House to speak 172 

Broadcasting House opened its portals to receive Amelia 
Earhart, heroine of the year 182 

Chancellor Dollfuss spoke from the very room in which 
eventually he was to meet his fate 198 

Emperor Hailie Selassie's address to America, seventy-five 
hundred miles away 220 

The 'Ceremony of the Keys' at the Tower of London 270 

Fred Bate, N.B.C. commentator, outside Buckingham 
Palace describing the Coronation Procession of Their 
Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth 280 

The Foreign Control Room at Middlesex Guild Hall during 
the broadcast of the Coronation 280 

Radio transmitted to the world the tragic beauty of the dead 
city of Pompeii 292 





WHEN the George Washington sailed from New York 
in January, 1930, carrying the American Delegation 
to the Five Power Naval Conference in London, she also had 
on board the largest and most variegated complement of 
newspaper correspondents that had crossed the ocean since 
the ill-starred Peace Conference at Versailles eleven years 
before. Among them were two specimens of a type of reporter 
that had been unrepresented either at Versailles or any of the 
dozen or more conferences from Spa to Locarno which 
ushered in the new era of 'open diplomacy/ 

This journalistic species new in the international field 
was the radio commentator. He was not represented at 
any of the previous parleys for the simple reason that he had 
not yet been invented, although broadcasting the greatest 
discovery in mass communication since the invention of 
printing had been born in 1920, the very year which saw 
the conclusion of Versailles and the birth of the League of 
Nations. It had taken ten years for the new baby to grow up. 

During that bitter and turbulent decade, in which a new 
Europe was laboring to be born, inventors and engineers had 
been quietly working to perfect the new discovery. While 
long-suffering, disillusioned humanity was pathetically 
clamoring for the peace that would not come, the medium 
through which 'nation might speak peace unto nation* was 
being made effective by these twentieth-century pioneers. 
This coincidence may one day appeal to the historian of our 
time; for the moment we are interested in those two men 

Hello ^America! 

aboard the George Washington who, unwittingly perhaps, 
were starting a new epoch in the dissemination of thought. 1 

The two men were William Hard, representing the Na- 
tional Broadcasting Company, and Frederic William Wile, 
who was sent by the Columbia Broadcasting System, then in 
existence less than two years. Hard was known through 
America as a brilliant and fearless commentator on political 
affairs, with a trenchant, witty style; Wile was a veteran 
journalist of world-wide experience an American whose 
pre-war exploits had led Lord Northcliffe to 'discover* him 
for the Daily Mail. Both were worthy members of that 
hardest-boiled of all newspapermen's fraternities, the 
Washington correspondents. Short-bodied, long-headed ' Bill ' 
Hard, with shrewd, kindly eyes; rotund and white-haired 
'Fred* Wile, a hard-hitting go-getter of benign countenance, 
were among the most distinctive human animals in that 
political Noah's Ark two personalities peculiarly fitted by 
destiny for a pioneering job. 

Their business was to report every few days, by radio, on 
the progress of the Conference, speaking by way of a nation- 
wide 'hook-up* direct to the radio audience of the United 
States and Canada. This was, essentially, no different from 
the daily cable reporting by newspaper correspondents, ex- 
cept for the medium employed. In effect, they were to tele- 
phone their observations from what amounted to little more 
than a telephone booth within a mile of St. James's Palace, 
where the Conference met, to a radio control-room in New 
York, whence their voices were instantaneously retrans- 
mitted to the sixty or more broadcasting stations constituting 
a radio 'chain* and simultaneously broadcast from these 

They were thus talking directly to millions of listeners, 

1 For the sake of historical accuracy be it recorded that wireless telephony across 
the Atlantic was first accomplished in 1915, and the first European radio program 
was transmitted to America early in 1924; but these and other spectacular develop- 
ments in wireless communication were admittedly experimental. The first scheduled 
international and short-wave transmission was a part of a symphony concert in 
Queen's Hall, London, on February i, 1929, and Senator Marconi's first transat- 
lantic talk for broadcasting was short-waved from Chelmsford, England, on 
December 12, 1929, six weeks before the opening of the London Naval Conference. 

^America Hears King (jeorge 5 

with but a fraction of a second's delay. They had the ad- 
vantage over their journalistic rivals in the all-important 
factor of time, and also in the superior power of the spoken 
over the written word. They could convey, by inflection and 
emphasis, what no amount of punctuation could suggest; 
they could capture and hold the interest of their audience by 
the appeal of their voices instead of relying upon words in 
cold print. 

Indeed, the qualities of their voices were transmitted with 
startling fidelity. The ' telephone booth ' which they used was 
a small studio in the building of the British Broadcasting 
Corporation, and^they talked, not into an ordinary telephone, 
but into that amazing instrument, the microphone, which 
reproduced and magnified their voices so as to carry, besides 
the meaning of their words, a projection of their personalities. 

But their assignment went further. Besides reporting the 
Conference and projecting their own personalities, they were 
to introduce the chief actors of the drama itself the 
delegates and the leading figures in and about the Conference 
room and to transmit an impression of the atmosphere of 
this important international event. Here is something no 
writer for a newspaper or a magazine could do. 

The fact that radio could do it illustrated at a flash the 
superior power of the new medium in journalism. It could 
report at first hand; it could set the scene by means of the 
spoken word, and it could then present the actors in the 
scene. Ramsay MacDonald, the British Prime Minister and 
president of the Conference, Henry L. Stimson, United States 
Secretary of State and chief American delegate, and others 
directly concerned could if they would give an account 
of their purposes and acts. The microphone could pick up, 
from the Conference table direct, the speeches, the rumble of 
voices, even the whispers and the rustle of papers. And so, 
for the first time in the history of 'open diplomacy/ at least 
the formalities were transmitted direct to the public. 

Hello ^America! 


On the twenty-first of January, 1930, an announcer of the 
British Broadcasting Corporation ('B.B.C.') said, 'We now 
take you to the House of Lords,' and there, in the hushed 
Royal Gallery, the voice of King George V welcomed the 
delegates of the five great Naval Powers, while millions of 
people on both sides of the Atlantic listened and heard, for 
the first time in history, the royal but quite human voice of 
the man whose personality symbolized the unity of the 
greatest empire in the world. 

It was noon in London, seven o'clock in the morning in 
New York, four o'clock long before dawn on the 
Pacific coast; yet everywhere men and women rose from their 
beds to listen, to witness this miracle of science. During the 
middle of the speech a curious thing happened in New York. 
By an odd misadventure a mechanic in the Columbia control- 
room tripped and tore the wire through which the King's 
voice was being transmitted to the broadcasting stations. 
With quick presence of mind the control operator picked up 
the severed strands and held them in his two hands until the 
break was repaired. In the intervening minutes the body of 
Harold Vivian formed part of the circuit through which the 
voice of George V reached millions of listeners. 

The King's speech was followed by those of the British 
Prime Minister, the chief delegates of the United States, 
France, Italy, Japan, India, and the British Dominions; on 
the same day Hard and Wile gave their first eye-witness 
accounts, and from then on, almost daily, radio listeners 
throughout the United States were able to follow the tortuous 
path of this Conference, whose half-success, half-failure fore- 
shadowed so much of Europe's and the world's unhappy 
history of the subsequent years. 

Little need here be said of the Conference itself. Many of 
the world's great and near-great flitted across its flood-lit 
stage or lingered in the obscure corners behind the wings, 
dickering, scheming, strutting, threatening, cajoling. Tar- 

^America Hears King (jeorge 

dieu and Briand, that ill-matched couple representing a still 
intransigent Victorious* France; handsome, black-bearded 
Dino Grandi, with his troupe of admirals and propagandists, 
for the first time truculently defying Italy's ex-ally, France, 
and demanding 'parity* with the Big Latin Brother; Makat- 
suki and Matsudaira, bland, smiling Japanese, cunningly 
playing one European politician against another, and finally 
accepting a sham inferiority that would not survive another 

Shadows of Abyssinia and Manchukuo, of violent acts to 
come and violations being plotted, could have been seen 
hurrying like storm-clouds across the horizon of that lowering 
political sky by anyone with a grain of historical prescience. 
But here was Ramsay MacDonald, self-appointed high-priest 
of political righteousness; vain, gullible, persistent, and 
sentimentally attached to Anglo-American friendship, bent 
on face-saving all round and insisting that humanity was 
going 'on and on and up and up.' No five-power treaty could 
be signed, but the three-power treaty that emerged at last 
postponed the armaments race for another five years. The 
essential failure of the main Conference to achieve general 
agreement presaged a debacle far more ignominious in 1936. 

The United States Senate ratified the treaty, such as it was 
the first post-war treaty negotiated in Europe in which 
America was anything but an observer. One may perhaps 
digress for a moment to ask what might have been the fate of 
that other treaty eleven years before if the American 
public could have 'listened in* to Versailles as it did to 
London in 1930. 

Whatever value history may place on the Naval Confer- 
ence of 1930, it cannot ignore the fact that with it came a new 
method of reporting the march of world events. Henceforth 
no conference of world importance is thinkable without the 
accompaniment and aid of broadcasting. In the his- 
tory of broadcasting itself, the Naval Conference marked an 
important date, for it was the beginning of an international 
activity which has already had a profound influence on its 

Hello ^America! 


My own entry into broadcasting, as chance would have it, 
was closely connected with this stage of development. The 
details are indelibly impressed on my mind. As a member of 
the staff of correspondents covering the Naval Conference for 
a group of American newspapers J I came into contact with 
both 'Bill* Hard and 'Fred* Wile, the only two radio men at 
the Conference. Wile arrived in London with a letter of 
introduction from a mutual friend, which led to a drive into 
the country on the following Sunday. We had to return to 
London in time for Wile to 'go on the air* at the old B.B.C. 
studios in Savoy Hill. 

I had never seen a broadcasting studio and asked to be 
taken along. We entered the ugly old building, a converted 
Victorian apartment house with its once proud fagade on the 
Thames Embankment, a near neighbor of the Savoy Hotel. 
It was a fine March evening, and the chattering starlings in 
the Savoy Chapel graveyard presaged the coming of Spring. 
We were shown into a sound-proof chamber, decorated with a 
sham window (for the benefit of sufferers from claustro- 
phobia), furnished with a reading-desk over which dangled, 
as from a miniature gallows, an old-fashioned carbon micro- 
phone. I had never even seen a microphone. A suave young 
man with the most perfect of Oxford accents spoke to us in 
subdued tones: 'Silence, please/ as a red light flicked over the 
door. Then, bending low over the microphone: 'Hello, 
America, London calling. And here is Mr. Frederic William 
Wile/ By the time Wile started to speak to the 'friends in 
America,' I was so fascinated that I thought it all a dream. 
Here we were, in this tiny room in an ordinary building, 
standing between an ancient churchyard and the river 
Thames, and over there, across three thousand miles of ocean, 
thousands no, millions could hear every word we said. 
A new world had opened to me . . . 

1 New York Evening Post and Philadelphia Public Ledger. My colleagues were 
Raymond Gram Swing and H. R. Knickerbocker, with the late-lamented Frank 
Simonds as 'star' commentator. 

^America Hears King (jeorge 

Wile must have read my thoughts, for on the way home he 
mumbled something about the Conference lasting too long, 
and himself having to leave with several things hanging fire 
Secretary Stimson, Bernard Shaw, and others still to be 
'aired/ Trying to sound unconcerned I offered to help, if 
necessary. About a fortnight later, on the eve of Wile's 
sailing, we had a farewell dinner. Before we went in, he 
handed me the copy of a cable he had just sent to New York. 
1 You may not know it/ he said, 'but until further notice you 
are our London representative/ While the Conference lin- 
gered on toward a probably inglorious end, I was to 'protect ' 
the network a mere ' dog-watch ' service, to be fitted in 
' after hours. * 

A few days later the storm broke. Cables poured into my 
office, Columbia wanting everything from the Prince of Wales 
to the United States Secretary of State. If life was hectic 
before, it was frantic now. I was a newspaper correspondent 
and a radio reporter all at the same time. 

But the Lord tempers the wind to the shorn lamb. I had 
the usual beginner's luck. My first guest speaker was that 
distinguished veteran of journalism, H. Wickham Steed, and 
within three weeks I was able to 'present' two of the princi- 
pal American delegates, both at crucial moments in the 
Conference. Stimson himself announced to the American 
public the signing of the tripartite London Naval Treaty and 
expounded its meaning a first-class scoop, which inciden- 
tally acquainted me with the uses of the still new transat- 
lantic telephone, for it required a midnight argument across 
the ocean to convince program managers in New York of the 
importance of this speech! 

By the end of April the Naval Conference was 'washed 
up/ Easter Sunday saw the delegates away, and his Lord- 
ship the Bishop of London had kindly consented to convey 
his blessings across the Atlantic under our auspices. Ancient 
St. James's Palace, which only a few hours ago had been a 
giant beehive swarming with politicians, diplomats, journal- 
ists, and hangers-on from the four corners of the world, be- 
came once more just a noble piece of Tudor architecture. 
The historic dull-red weathered brick building with its crenel- 

io Hello ^America! 

lated walls lapsed again into the drowsy dignity acquired in 
four centuries of serene contemplation. Outside, the red- 
coated bearskin-topped sentry marched as always across the 
open side of Friary Court (from whose central balcony Mrs. 
Wallis Warfield Simpson was later to watch the proclamation 
of her royal friend, Edward VIII). 

Across and across, back and forth he marched, like a toy 
actor moving in a groove, executing those absurd rhythmic 
tramples at each end, by means of which alone he could 
manage, without sacrificing the illusion of a mechanism, to 
reverse and march the other way. For two solid months he 
and his alternates had to be in constant danger of treading 
upon dodging journalists as they hurried in and out of the 
palace, foreigners who did not always understand that a 
British guardsman is constitutionally unable to swerve 
even in order to avoid a collision. 

And now at last these sturdy guardsmen could again do 
their duty without mental qualms. Inside, the great Queen 
Anne's room, which had resounded to the fine Christian 
phrases of Ramsay MacDonald and the rich, mellow oratory 
of ageing Aristide Briand, was being swept out; below it, the 
long room reserved for the journalists and fitted up for all the 
world like a schoolroom, with a hundred individual desks and 
chairs, was all but deserted. Here and there a straggler was 
packing up; a grinning Jap was writing a ' round-up' for his 
Tokyo sheet. Scraps of paper, crumpled copies of the last 
mimeographed official communiques were strewn about on 
the floor. Another event had passed into history; another 
newspaperman's job was done. What next? 

As I sat at my typewriter, the last news message gone, it 
occurred to me that the one real experience of these two 
months had been that little microphone in Savoy Hill: the 
thrilling telephone conversation across the ocean, the frock- 
coated Secretary of State, his private abstract of the treaty in 
his hand, sitting at that little reading-desk and speaking to 
the millions of America. Here, for better or worse, was some- 
thing new, something more direct, more speedy than this 
laborious reporting by written symbols. Had it come to 
stay? Or was it good only for extraordinary occasions like 

^America Hears King (jeorge n 

this? Sitting there, in the long, deserted room lit by the 
cold afternoon rays of the April sun, I visualized a new kind 
of activity a permanent service of spoken messages across 
the Atlantic not only of news, but opinions the wisdom 
of the outstanding men of the age, scientists, economists, 
authors and poets, churchmen and teachers statesmen, too, 
who could see in this service a great opportunity for Anglo- 
American understanding. My immediate broadcasting as- 
signment was finished, but why not try a shot in the dark? 
I typed a message on a cable form: 


When I walked home that evening, past the red-coated 
sentry up St. James's Street and across Piccadilly, I had a 
vague feeling that I was walking out of journalism as I had 
known it into something else. The answer to my cable asked 
for details. I cabled back a year's program for Sunday talks, 
bristling with great British names, with subjects assigned to 
each, and ending with the item 'Shaw on anything/ 

Within three days I had my answer. It read: 'Your plan 
great. Who speaks next Sunday?' That was the beginning 
of the first regular transatlantic broadcast service, and a few 
weeks later I was the network's officially appointed European 
radio representative, the first permanent foreign emissary of 

Within the first four months America had heard thirty or 
more leading statesmen, writers, and preachers speaking from 
London. The newspapers had discovered a new source of 
material for news-hungry editors. The American radio 
audience had 'tasted blood.' It was obvious that second- 

12. Hello ^America! 

hand reporting was no longer enough, even in the inter- 
national field. If one could actually hear European states- 
men while they were in the throes of shaping the fate of 
nations; if one could hear King George solemnly adjuring 
the statesmen to ' hasten the time of general disarmament,' 
there was no reason why one couldn't hear the voices of any 
of the generation's great men. This was, indeed, eaves- 
dropping on history. 

The public thinks of contemporary history in terms of the 
men who shape it. The personalities of those who are 
responsible for the work and thought of our time are subjects 
for universal curiosity, and the voice of a great man is an 
essential part of his personality. The two voices that the 
American public wanted most to hear from across the 
Atlantic were those of the Prince of Wales and George 
Bernard Shaw the most popular Englishman and the 
most famous Irishman. It goes without saying that the 
efforts of an American radio representative in Europe would 
be concentrated on these two. 

It was, of course, impossible to a sk the Prince of Wales to 
broadcast to America. Royalty cannot be officially ap- 
proached by foreigners except through diplomatic channels. 
Theoretically royalty does nothing by request; royalty takes 
the initiative in everything; royalty 'commands/ as pre- 
scribed by precedent. There was no precedent for inter- 
national broadcasting. 

In his own country the Prince had been heard by radio 
many times, opening Wembley, unveiling a monument, 
'crowning the bard' at the Welsh Eisteddfod, and doing 
other royal chores. Once in fact his voice had been broadcast 
in Canada, opening the Peace Bridge across the Niagara 
River (1927), and as a hazardous experiment the speech was 
' relayed ' to England. Obviously the only way for Americans 
to hear their favorite playboy was to await another official 

It came sooner than expected. In April, soon after the 
close of the Naval Conference, it was reported that the 
Prince was going to act as sponsor at the launching of the 
great new Canadian Pacific liner, the Empress of Brifain, in 

^America Hears King }eorge 13 

June. It was the largest vessel to be built in England since 
the war and would be the largest and fastest to act as a direct 
link of the Empire. Here was a great occasion; the country 
would want to hear the Prince's speech and, more particu- 
larly, Canada would want to hear it, for it was to be a proud 
day for the Dominion. But how? 

The British Broadcasting Corporation's short-wave station 
at Chelmsford was not sufficiently reliable, and there were no 
corresponding facilities in Canada to insure a satisfactory 
rebroadcast. There was, on the other hand, the transatlantic 
radio-telephone service, linking Great Britain with the 
United States and indirectly with Canada; so if the speech 
was to be transmitted to Canada, it had to be done via the 
United States an idea which somehow touched the pride of 
those in charge; and it was not thinkable that this event 
should be transmitted to the United States alone. In the 
end the B.B.C. decided to solve the difficulty by doing 
nothing, namely, by refusing permission to 'relay' the broad- 
cast to anyone outside Great Britain. So neither Canada 
nor the United States would hear the Prince. 

June ii arrived and the Prince launched the ship. As he 
pulled the lever that released the vessel and smashed the 
traditional bottle of champagne on her bow, he spoke in a 
loud and clear voice, 'I name this ship Empress of Britain 
and may success attend her and all who sail in her/ Then 
followed one of those happy speeches which were increasing 
his popularity from day to day. I listened to it with mixed 
feelings: I had left no stone unturned; had argued and 
pleaded up to a few hours before the event. Yet all I could 
get was a polite and regretful 'no/ for reasons which seemed 
to me absurd. 

Late that afternoon, as I sat in my office, a cable was 
handed to me. It was from the Columbia office in New York 
and it said that the Prince's speech was a great success, that 
we scored a great 'scoop/ and how had I done it? Next 
morning the American papers carried headlines reading 
'Prince of Wales on Radio' and prominently recorded the 
fact that the Prince's speech was broadcast by the Columbia 
Broadcasting System. It was grand publicity. 

14 Hello ^America! 

I was dumbfounded. The B.B.C. telephoned to ask why 
we had disregarded their veto. We hadn't; but someone, in 
the excitement of the battle, and optimistic to the last 
moment, had failed to cancel transmission facilities previ- 
ously ordered from transatlantic telephone service. When the 
time came for the speech, the London operator had simply 
'cut through' to New York, and the New York operator had 
offered the transmission to Columbia. Columbia's 'master- 
control,' convinced that there had been a last-minute change, 
cleared the network and out went the speech, to be heard by 
thousands of lucky fans who happened to be listening at that 

Bird No. i was in the bag. And now for No. 2. 



WHAT next? Here I was, a little fellow with a Big 
Plan. Could I bring it off? I was not the conven- 
tional 'contact man': I had neither the impressive person- 
ality nor the advantages of social entree or a well-known 
name. It was, moreover, a difficult one to remember and 
inordinately long; I had to spell out its eleven letters to all 
the skeptical secretaries of the eminent men who were to be 
my quarries. Moreover, the name Columbia meant nothing 
to any European; I had to explain that we did not manufac- 
ture phonographs. 

I had tackled many famous men as a newspaper reporter 
in my time from Charlie Chaplin to Field Marshal Luden- 
dorff but asking questions is one thing and breaking down 
prejudice is another. What I had to do now was to pit my 
wits against the cream of contemporary minds: had to argue 
with them, persuade them what they didn't want to do, or 
said they didn't want to do, plan with them, cajole them, 
criticize what they wanted to say and how to say it at the 
microphone. What is more, I had to make them say it in 
fifteen minutes or less. And I was a timid soul! The pub- 
licity blurbs called me the first 'ambassador of radio': the 
diplomatic metaphor wasn't altogether incompatible with 
the job. 

In choosing my victims, two things had to be considered 
first the trend of the news and international good will. 
'Nation shall speak peace unto nation' was the motto of the 
British Broadcasting Corporation, and the B.B.C. was my 

1 6 Hello ^America! 

most important contact in England. I soon found, however, 
that there were some obstacles in the way. 

The British, having profited by the sad experience of 
pioneer America, had avoided the chaotic conditions which 
ensued after the early days of broadcasting in the United 
States. They had solved their problem in the British way, by 
putting their heads together and effecting a compromise. 
Their Government, having sensed the importance of the new 
medium, had temporarily licensed one single company, 
composed of all the chief radio manufacturing interests. 
After an experimental period of four years they decided 
definitely in favor of the monopoly principle and the original 
'company' was converted into a 'corporation* chartered by 
the Crown. 

The Corporation, licensed by the Government, would 
serve everybody the public, by providing programs; the 
manufacturers, by creating a demand for radio sets; and the 
Government, by providing an effective, unified instrument 
for nation-wide communication, especially in a national 
emergency not to mention a handsome revenue. 1 

So the B.B.C. fully represented Great Britain, so far as 
broadcasting was concerned, while neither of the two major 
American companies represented the whole United States. 
The N.B.C., as the senior American network, had been co- 
operating with the B.B.C. in technical experiments for years, 
and the two companies had exchanged programs experimen- 
tally from the very beginnings of shortwave transmission. 
Columbia had been granted temporary facilities only for the 
duration of the Naval Conference of 1930, on the presump- 
tion that the added 'circulation* for Conference reports 
would be good for anglo-American relations. 

The snag about establishing a permanent relationship was 
that the American competitive system and the British 

1 The Government's share of the B.B.C. 's income during the first ten years of 
the Corporation's existence was 11,371,000 (approximately 156,000,000), leaving 
the B.B.C. 13,031,000 (approximately $65,000,000) for construction, maintenance 
and programs. In addition to its income from listeners' licenses the B.B.C. has a 
net revenue of about 442,000 (approximately $2,200,000) from its publications. 
The Corporation is non-profit-taking, hence all its net income goes to provide pro- 
grams, service, and maintenance. 

JJf en of (^ood Will 

monopoly would not make an equal team. The equation 
I : I had to be converted into 2 : i and eventually (with 
other American companies coming into the field) into x: I, 
without sacrificing the obvious advantages of a tight little 
co-operative partnership between two single national con- 
cerns. British far-sightedness found a new formula, which 
in the end redounded to the benefit of all. The matter is of 
some importance, because the action of the B.B.C. in 
'recognizing* more than one American company set the pre- 
cedent for a general European policy with reference to 
United States broadcasting, and the credit was chiefly due 
to Sir John Reith, the Director-General, and his (then) 
Foreign Director, Major C. F. Atkinson. 


Sir John, widely renowned as the 'autocrat* of British 
broadcasting, and by all odds the most commanding figure 
in the European radio world, first hove into my view in the 
summer of 1930, when with Henry A. Bellows, then vice- 
president of Columbia, I stepped into his office at the top 
of the old Savoy Hill studios for the final negotiations for a 
joint agreement. They were brief. Sir John, a towering, 
wide-shouldered figure of a Scotsman, with bony, war- 
scarred, youngish features, bushy eyebrows and a purpose- 
ful jaw, pushed a beautifully drawn-up document out to us 
to be read and eventually signed. It had been pre- 
pared with the care characteristic of the British civil-service 
mind, and it left very little to chance. 

The conversation was equally brief. Sir John, looking at 
Bellows with a searching eye, said, 'What I'd like to know is 
how you Americans can successfully worship God and 
Mammon at the same time/ but didn't insist on getting the 
recipe, which was just as well. The bargain was made and 
Britain's radio relations with America fixed for a long time 
to come. 

1 8 Hello ^America! 

Sir John was nothing if not frank. The first time he met 
William S. Paley, the youthful president of Columbia, he 
told him he was just waiting for the day when the two great 
American companies would merge their interests and com- 
bine. Then, with a twinkle in his eyes, 'It's a nuisance to 
have to deal with two of ye/ But next time Paley arrived 
in London, the Stars and Stripes, hoisted in his honor, 
floated over Broadcasting House. As soon as we stepped 
into the room Sir John said: 'Did you see the flag?* 

Whether he is the 'czar* he is reputed to be I don't know. 
He is, however, tremendously proud of his organization, 
and probably doesn't think the autocrat story does any 
harm. In any case, whenever there's a conversation in his 
presence he commands it, and whatever the circumstances 
he has never been known to lose his dignity. 

The entrance to London's modernist Temple of Radio, 
modestly known as Broadcasting House, is adorned by a 
large statue of bearded Prospero holding Ariel. The most 
prominent thing inside the lobby is a bronze inscription 
beginning with 'Dominus omnipotentus* and perpetuating 
the name of 'Dominus loannes Reith' as the first 'rector* 
of British radio. When the erect form of Sir John walks 
through that lobby, the uniformed, bemedalled attendants 
stand respectfully to attention while he returns their salute. 
He is so tall that it is impossible not to single him out in a 
crowd. On the other hand he is able to pass even the man of 
average height on the street without seeing him, whether he 
worships Mammon or God. For anyone my size to keep 
countenance in his presence required self-possession or a 
sense of humor, or both. When, at the end of my incum- 
bency, Sir John made a farewell speech, I was genuinely 
relieved when he asked the guests' permission to remain 
seated But this is jumping years ahead of my story. 

'Nation shall speak peace unto nation/ The way to 
implement that motto was to find, in each nation, the 'men 
of good will ' who were able and willing to speak. I wanted 
men with something to say, whose voice had the ring of 
authority, as well as those whose position of authority was 
sufficient reason for being heard. We didn't want the trans- 

<Men of Cjood Will 

atlantic glad-hander, the international yes-man, any more 
than the super-patriot who would lecture his 'American 
cousins' on the excellence of things British and the high- 
mindedness of British policy. Above all we wanted nobody 
with a private mission from Whitehall, or a political axe to 

It was not as easy as it looked. Yet one by one the lions 
came out of their lair, and it would now be easier to enu- 
merate the really eminent men who have not had their say 
than those who have. Which does not mean that the 'say' 
was always worth saying. 


The paramount subject in the world news in 1930 was 
Peace. The London Naval Treaty was signed and ratified; 
the French evacuated the Rhineland before the end of the 
legal occupation period; France signed the Optional Clause 
of the World Court; Italy and Soviet Russia concluded a 
commercial agreement; and Briand's plan for a United 
States of Europe was being circulated to the governments. 
There had been, it is true, a second Wall Street slump, but 
prosperity was rumored to be around that mythical corner, 
and recovery was in a vague way associated with the pros- 
pects of peace. The world, in the full tide of hope during 
that salubrious summer, was looking forward to the World 
Disarmament Conference of 1932, the greatest push for 
peace in the history of the world. The first person I turned 
to in these circumstances was Lord Cecil Viscount Cecil 
of Chelwood that most distinguished, most unswervingly 
idealistic, of British champions of peace. 

Lord Cecil, scion of a family that had served British sov- 
ereigns since the days of Elizabeth, son of a great prime 
minister and himself holder of three successive portfolios, 
had resigned from the Conservative Government because 
of its attitude toward the United States in the abortive 

zo Hello ^America! 

Geneva Naval Conference of 1927. Politically unambitious, 
regarding public office only as a means to beneficent action, 
Cecil at sixty-six had gone into the 'wilderness* at home in 
order to continue to uphold at Geneva the principles of the 
League Covenant for which he, even more than Woodrow 
Wilson, was responsible. But now the Conservative Gov- 
ernment had atoned for its previous sin by reaching agree- 
ment with America and Japan. A mere party politician 
might have been peeved; Cecil was happy over the propitious 
event. But would he talk to America? I proposed as a sub- 
ject 'The Next Step Towards Disarmament/ 

The greater task was still ahead disarmament on land 
and that was being prepared under League auspices. 
Might he, a world-renowned pro-Leaguer, not jeopardize the 
present treaty by talking about that next step? A passionate 
believer in the 'collective system/ Cecil's great dream was 
to see Britain and the United States within that system, 
leading the world to permanent peace. He hesitated; finally 
it was decided that he should consult his friends in the 
United States. Not till the Naval Treaty was ratified did he 
actually speak, and then in August he gave the most 
lucid, quintessential, convincing statement of the case for 
disarmament I have ever heard. 

'No amount of treaties/ he argued, 'can be relied on to 
prevent war, so long as the nations continue to have and 
exercise the unrestricted right of arming themselves against 
one another/ Fear is the atmosphere that leads to war, and 
since 'it is the cry of invasion that creates the most danger- 
ous panics/ land disarmament is for Continental nations 
the key to neutrality (since navies at any rate cannot in- 
vade). 'Be not weary of well-doing/ he said to his American 
listeners. 'We owe you a deep debt of gratitude for your 
initiative and tenacity in the promotion of naval disarma- 
ment, but there is still, from the peace point of view, every- 
thing to be done/ 

Sixteen months later, on the eve of the Disarmament Con- 
ference, I organized a six-nation radio manifestation and 
once again it was Lord Cecil who made the issue clear. His 
three points were: i) the abolition of five kinds of offensive 

Men of qood Will 2.1 

weapons: tanks, war planes, heavy land artillery, battleships 
and submarines; 2) establishment of a permanent disarma- 
ment commission; 3) limitation of military and naval budg- 
ets by agreement. Even though the question of disarma- 
ment is now in abeyance, it is well to remember these points, 
for the world will some day have to return to them. 1 

At various times after that, Lord Cecil has always 
unofficially talked to American listeners, and always with 
the same mastery of the issue, the same clarity and classical 
perfection of phrase. Never an orator in the usual sense of 
the word, his style is peculiarly effective at the microphone, 
because unaffected yet personal. Of all the broadcasts on 
the abdication crisis Lord Cecil's put the case most suc- 
cinctly. And when he said that 'next to a British subject 
we should welcome an American as queen/ he meant it- 
so far as he himself was concerned. 

I look back on my interviews with Lord Cecil as a rare 
experience. He would receive me in his little ground-floor 
study, or, when time permitted, in the grander drawing- 
room upstairs, at the modest house on the borders of Ken- 
sington and Chelsea. With his tall, top-heavy body mounted 
on over-long legs, his bald, dome-shaped head with its 
coronet of gray wisps, and the huge hooked nose protruding 
beneath the deep-set, luminous eyes, he would swoop into 
the room like some great bird of prey; but soon he would 
slouch deep into an easy-chair, legs protruding far out into 
space, elbows supported and spread hands joined at the 
finger-tips, smiling with his small, deep-set eyes, and breath- 
ing kindliness, learning, and dignity as he administered a 
history lesson or expostulated on the 'situation' always 
without rancor, however discouraging it might be. 

When he arrived for his broadcasts and once he arrived 
too late the always black-clothed, hurrying figure crowned 
by an enormously round, wide-brimmed hat, would arouse 
the morbid curiosity of autograph hunters at the doors of 

1 This broadcast also comprised speeches by the Archbishop of York, a man of 
very liberal ideas; Baron Werner von Rheinbaben (for Germany); Don Salvador 
de Madariaga, Spanish liberal and a veteran leader in League affairs; Signer 
Augusto Rosso, afterward Italian Ambassador in Washington; and Mrs. Ben 
Hooper, of the American Federation of Women's Clubs. 

2.2. Hello ^America! 

Broadcasting House. Nobody recognized him. 'They take 
me for a film-star/ he laughed, the night he came to talk 
about the fate of Edward VIII. In Geneva, where his por- 
trait adorns many a shop window, every child recognizes the 
man who personifies, to good Europeans, the ideal of World 
Peace, today, as winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Lord 
Cecil is pre-eminent among Britain's men of good will; I 
shall always be proud to have induced him to use the trans- 
atlantic radio in the cause to which he dedicated his life. 

In surveying the rapidly diminishing roster of Elder 
Statesmen surviving the World War generation my eye fell 
on the august name of Viscount Grey of Fallodon, the man 
to whom, as Sir Edward Grey, fell the fateful duty of de- 
claring war on Germany in August, 1914. To the fact that 
Lord Grey was an admirer of George Washington and a deep 
student of his life I owe one of the unforgettable moments of 
my London quest. I wanted a Washington's Birthday 
oration by Lord Grey, a task which so appealed to him that 
he willingly emerged from the peace and quiet of his Nor- 
thumberland estate, to journey to London and face the 
microphone for the first time in his life. It was the only 
broadcast he ever made; for he died not many months later. 

I met Lord Grey on a bleak February day at Dartmouth 
House, near Berkeley Square. It gave me a queer feeling to 
be in the presence of the man whom many people held re- 
sponsible for the tragic sequence of events that converted 
England into a house of mourning, and whom the Germans 
regarded as the personification of 'perfidious Albion/ But 
the sequel to that fateful turn of history was that the two 
great English-speaking peoples came together in armed con- 
flict against a common adversary for the first time in his- 
tory the first time since General George Washington, the 
man to be celebrated, took up the sword against the Mother 

'How is it that an Englishman can enthuse about George 
Washington, who after all was responsible for the loss of 
England's American empire?' I asked Lord Grey. 

'The present generation of Englishmen considers that 

Viscount Cecil of Chelwood 

In Geneva every child recognizes the man who personifies the ideal of 

World Peace 

Egan Photo 

<Men of qood Will 

English policy, and not the American colonists, was respon- 
sible/ he said. 'We think that Chatham and Burke were 
right, and that George III and his ministers failed in their 
statesmanship. It was, in fact, inevitable. A Frenchman, 
the elder Mirabeau, saw it coming. When he heard that 
France had lost its colonies to England he said: "Now they 
[the English] will lose their own." He meant that since the 
pressure of the French colonies was removed, the English 
colonies would not need the support of the Mother Country, 
and that all matters between them like taxation would 
have to be settled by consent. And this would need a com- 
plete change of attitude on the part of the British Govern- 
ment, which they would not accept.' 

I watched Grey as he spoke. A grave, contemplative man 
a scholar, not a politician, I thought. Would he tell his 
American listeners what he had told me? 

'Ah, yes, if you like. But I also want to talk about Wash- 
ington, the man. I love him, you know!* 

This was said simply, almost naively; and then he pro- 
ceeded to tell me why he thought Washington a great man, 
not just a man of genius, or a successful man. 'Success is 
apt to stimulate egotism/ he explained. 'A man wants to 
retain personal power; he fails to be great because he has 
ceased to care or may never have cared for anything 
greater than himself/ 

In this brief analysis Grey, the man, seemed to reveal 
himself. He was anything but egotistical; he certainly had 
no desire to retain power, once he felt that his usefulness 
was gone; and he never ceased to care for things greater than 
himself. A profoundly religious man a naturalist, a 
philosopher, a recluse in his northern sanctuary, where 
the mysteries of bird life held infinitely more charm for him 
than the affairs of men. A gentle, sensitive, high-principled 
person whom all perfidy and violence must have wounded 
to the depth of his soul. And it is with such people at their 
head, I reflected, that nations must face their crises and 
fight their wars. 

Years ago, as a journalist, I had to interview General 
Ludendorff on the subject of the war. Sitting here, in a quiet 

2.4 Hello ^America! 

London room, opposite this tranquil, gracious, ageing figure, 
so deeply touched by tragedy, it would have seemed like a 
sacrilege to speak of anything so violent. Instead we spoke 
of Fallodon, and of Theodore Roosevelt, a brother-naturalist 
who had walked with him in its shady glades, observing 
water-fowl and musing on bird-life in general . . . 

Grey asked if I were going his way towards his club 
in St. James's Street; and together we walked to Piccadilly, 
which had to be crossed. I knew of his failing eyesight he 
was almost blind. Should I guide him across, through the 
traffic? I held out a tentative arm. But he walked firmly on, 
picking his way through the dangerous street, unrecognized 
by the hurrying crowds as the man on whose words, seven- 
teen years before, had hung the fate of their race. 

Tall, erect, the embodiment of dignity, this septuagenarian 
of spiritual countenance walked on, an Englishman among 
Englishmen almost an epitome of Englishness, in its most 
rarefied mood. 

Both Grey and Cecil were, in the last analysis, pacifists, 
just as were Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson, whose names 
are forever associated with war. Both served in the British 
War Cabinet, one as Foreign Secretary, the other as 'Minis- 
ter of Blockade' a word that conjures up the most cruel 
of all the cruel aspects of the World War. Had they to make 
their decisions today, would they be the same? England 
was a peaceful country in 1914, after 1918 it was upacifistic 
one. And out of the war generation has come another type 
of men of good will, the bitter-enders of peace, the Norman 
Angells, the Ponsonbys and Lansburys, and the Dick Shep- 
pards men whose fellows on the other side of the inter- 
national fence are languishing in concentration camps, or in 

One of the outstanding figures of this type, who for clear 

JVLen of fyod Will 

thinking and sheer intellectual honesty has few equals in the 
world, was a mousy little member of the House of Commons 
named Norman Angell Sir Norman to people who need 
to be impressed before they will take a man seriously. Nor- 
man Angell is a scientist of peace. Others love peace, pray 
for it, suffer for it. He believes in it as the ultimate economic 
necessity. In his Great Illusion, written before the World 
War, he foretold all that people have since learned by bitter 
experience. Millions have read that book, in twenty-five 
languages; yet today the world is ablaze at three corners and 
it seems only a matter of time when the flames will merge. 
When they do, Norman Angell like his more sentimental 
friends the religious pacifists will probably find them- 
selves in jail; and even while they are yet at large people see 
to it that their voices are muffled, for nothing is more dan- 
gerous to folly than the truth. Norman Angell, so far as I 
know, had never been asked to broadcast when I first ap- 
proached him in 1931. 

'It is not the facts which guide the conduct of men/ he 
said in his first talk to American listeners, ' but their opinions 
about facts; which may be entirely wrong. We can only 
make them right by discussion/ I should like to print that 
talk, word for word; for in it he destroyed so many false 
opinions about 'facts* about nationality and empire and 
economics and trade that no one who heard it would want 
to listen to the mouthings of the patrioteers and the apostles 
of 'national honor' again. Nobody, in fact, dares to say 
that Norman Angell is wrong; yet I do not hear his voice on 
the radio much oftener than before 

I cannot help thinking that this keen-eyed, unimpressive 
little man in tweeds did something for Anglo-American rela- 
tions even in that one quiet little lecture across the Big Pond. 
'Look me up sometime,' he said as we parted in the Strand, 
nearly six years ago. I never did, I am ashamed to confess. 
But I'm going to do it now. 

To Americans, Norman Angell seemed too relentlessly 
rational, too dispassionate to stir people into sympathy. 
The American audience constantly clamors for 'human' 

2.6 Hello ^America! 

qualities; Americans want their emotions to be engaged; 
their demand for ' personality* is insatiable. So I set about 
getting a man who combined high intellectual attainment 
with a genius for direct human appeal a man whose great- 
ness of mind was matched by his greatness of heart. Such 
a man was the venerable scientist, Sir Oliver Lodge, one of 
the pioneers not only in the discovery of radio, but also in 
its application to human needs a man who could project 
his personality, by what he considered an occult force, more 
completely than anyone else I have known. 

Sir Oliver Lodge, physicist, mathematician, inventor, 
philosopher, and researcher into the Unknown, was in his 
seventieth year when I first met him in his remote country 
house on Salisbury Plain not far from Amesbury and 
Stonehenge, where the monuments of Europe's earliest 
known civilization stand like lonely stone sentinels against 
the uninterrupted expanse of windswept sky. For years a 
widower, he lived in the solitude of the gray stone house, 
served by an elderly housekeeper and assisted in his labors 
by a young woman secretary. I found him, on a burning 
hot afternoon, resting in a garden shelter, slowly waving a 
palmetto fan. His high, bald, dome-shaped skull, bulging 
into an enormous forehead, showed beads of sweat. But 
his manner was cordial despite the discomfort of the day. 
Looking straight ahead of him, out of deep-set eyes shaded 
by sensationally long and bushy eyebrows, he said: 

* I should like to speak about the Destiny of America. Is 
that what you want?* 

Secretly I had hoped for a talk on spiritualism, but I found 
that he wasn't ready for this. Did he mean a scientist's fore- 
cast of America's future ? 

'No/ he said, 'not that. I believe that America has a 
great world destiny a political mission. Fifty years ago 
I heard your great historian, John Fiske, predicting the fed- 
eration of the English-speaking race. Nothing we could do, 
he said, could stop it, and it would be a blessing to humanity. 
Now Anglo-American friendship is on the increase; the exclu- 
sive spirit of nationality is weakening, except among the 
small nations like South Ireland and Czechoslovakia, who 

<Men of qood Will 17 

have just acquired it. The United States probably hardly 
realize the part they are to play in human progress. They 
are developing into the mightiest nation; they are isolated 
from the jealousies of Europe; yet they have begun to realize 
that they must stand in with the rest of humanity ' 

It all sounded a little too Utopian; but I realized he had 
meditated on that idea, and wanted to say what was on his 
mind. The tenor of his lay was that eventually we Ameri- 
cans would have to live up to the professions of our states- 
men : that the world needed a police force to keep the peace, 
and that nobody else could be trusted to maintain it. Amer- 
ica must become the policeman of the world. 

'It may be too dangerous to suggest it . . / 

I said 'no' for nothing is too 'dangerous* to the jour- 
nalist when it issues from the mouths of men who are 
acknowledged to be great or wise. And there was something 
prophetic even about the appearance of this white-haired sage. 

'Not yet/ he mused. 'Much to be done before this 

The mills of God grind slowly. . . . The destiny of nations is 
too big for haste. - But like John Fiske, I feel that either that 
or something better will come ' 

We were called for tea. Slowly he raised himself up and 
with much hard breathing got to the house. We agreed, 
around the tea-table, that he should do the talk. 

It was a great success. So much so that in response to a 
cable I asked him to broadcast again a fortnight later. And 
this time it was spiritualism 'The Reality of a Spiritual 
World* the logical exposition of a tenet that is so difficult 
for agnostics to take seriously. Yet here was an accepted 
scientist, who had demonstrated in the physical world the 
existence of forces that the ignorant regard as a miracle 
the very forces by which he was now, sitting in London, 
speaking to millions in America. 

'The real fact/ he said, 'is that we are in the midst of a 
spiritual world, that it dominates the material. It consti- 
tutes the great and omnipresent reality, whose powers we 

are only beginning to realize Its forces are prodigious/ 

And he ended with the assurance that 'all will ultimately be 
well/ because he is one of the world's great optimists with 

2.8 Hello ^America! 

an optimism that the bitterest of life's sacrifices had not 

As great as Lodge's optimism is his sincerity, and that is 
what made his broadcasting unique in its power. Every 
breath, every effort of speech ' came across ' the whole of 
this lovable old man was pictured in the sound of his voice. 


If you were to ask anyone in the British Isles a profes- 
sor, a general, or a bishop, a Durham miner, a white-collar 
worker in Birmingham, an Oxford don, or a down-and-out 
in London's East End who Dick Sheppard was, he would look 
at you as though you were pulling his leg. For Dick Shep- 
pard's name is known wherever in England men walk and 
talk, and wherever they listen to the radio or listened, 
for his voice, too, was a discordant sound in the era of rearma- 
ment. Dick Sheppard was an Anglican priest officially he 
was the Very Reverend Hugh Richard Laurie Sheppard, 
D.D., Companion of Honour, Canon of the Cathedral of St. 
Paul. He had even been Dean of Canterbury and ' priest-in- 
ordinary' to the King. But to the millions he was known as 
the 'broadcasting parson' (for he was the first to broadcast 
services in England from his pulpit at St. Martin's-in-the- 
Fields) and as the leader of those who will not fight. He 
and a British brigadier-general, the late Frank Percy 
Crozier, C.B., C.M.G., who fought throughout the war and 
earned the D.S.O., the Croix de Guerre, and every conceiv- 
able distinction for bravery, organized a Peace Pledge Move- 
ment, in which are enrolled hundreds of thousands of young 
men (men only !) who have signed their names on open post- 
cards under a pledge that in no circumstances will they take 
up arms, for King and Country or anything else. I think it is 
safe to say that nowhere except in Great Britain is such a 
thing possible today. 1 

1 General Crozier, who was the author of a much-attacked book, The Men I 

Men of good Will 

What does this mean? It means that next time Great 
Britain goes to war, many thousands of religious young men 
will either become guilty of moral perjury or the country 
will be dotted with concentration camps, filled with con- 
scientious objectors, from end to end. 

I wanted Dick Sheppard's appeal to be heard in America. 
I found him, a pudgy, middle-sized cleric with a winning 
smile a 'practical* Christian to whom Christianity is a 
matter of works rather than faith working like a business 
man in his office at St. Paul's chapter house, with a secretary 
taking letters, making appointments, arranging meetings. 
A tiny, inconspicuous advertisement in the daily papers 
announcing a mass meeting at which he would speak had 
filled the immense Albert Hall with fervent followers; post- 
card pledges had been pouring in ever since. Here he was, 
surrounded by the hard, lifeless symbols of ecclesiastical 
routine advocating the Christian philosophy of non-resist- 
ance, as unperturbed by the relentless automatic workings 
of organized religion as by the hideous grinding of the traffic 
in the streets outside. He was the busiest man I ever saw; 
but no effort that might further the cause could be refused; 
so he came to Broadcasting House to 'tell America/ He 
was already ill, and he died in the midst of his campaign 
while Britain was re-arming with all her might. 


A wide and tenuous arc connects the political rectitude 
of a Grey to the bitter-end pacifism of a Dick Sheppard. 
Between these two extremes I found many shades many 
varieties of 'men of good will/ There was Sir Herbert (now 
Lord) Samuel, leader of the Liberals, whose sovereign rem- 
edy for war was Free Trade; and Major Attlee, leader of the 

Killed, died in the summer of 1937, and Dick Sheppard preached a funeral oration. 
A special guard was required to prevent disorder, for patriotic citizens, as well as 
Fascists, had become infuriated by his frank confessions of barbarity in war. 

30 Hello ^America! 

Labour Party, a mild-mannered, Oxford-bred Socialist. 
There was Lord Ponsonby, one-time page to Queen Victoria, 
a hater of war who resigned his leadership in the House of 
Lords when George Lansbury resigned his in the Commons 
because neither of them would countenance violence even 
in the homeopathic form of ' sanctions/ as advocated by the 
League. And there was old side-whiskered George Lansbury 
himself, like a photograph out of a Victorian family album, 
so full of the milk of human kindness that even his famous 
visits to Hitler and Mussolini could not sour it. Not to forget 
Lord Snowden, that hard-headed Yorkshireman who had 
the reputation of 'leaving no stone unflung' even when 
talking about members of his own party. I asked him, as an 
honest, neutral expert, to sum up the 'tragedy of the Eco- 
nomic Conference for the American radio audience, and he 
placed the blame much nearer home than his countryman 
liked. Speaking of Franklin D. Roosevelt, accused both in 
England and America of ' dynamiting ' the Conference, he said : 
'It would not be fair, however, to attribute to Mr. Roose- 
velt the full responsibility for the breakdown of the Confer- 
ence. The obvious differences amongst the delegates already 
manifest would certainly have brought the Conference to 
disruption later. The British Government must bear a large 
share of the responsibility for the tragic failures of the Con- 
ference. They went into the Conference without adequate 
preparation and with no policy beyond the statement of a 
few generalities. They favored a rise of prices, but they never 
contributed any plans to attain that object. They spoke 
eloquently about the evils of trade restrictions. They de- 
nounced excessive tariffs, not British tariffs, but those of 
other countries. They condemned quotas and embargoes, 
but insisted on maintaining their own quotas. They ac- 
cepted a tariff truce, but reserved the right to go on mean- 
while increasing their own tariffs. Though committed to the 
policy by the Roosevelt-MacDonald statement, Mr. Runci- 
man announced to the Conference that the British Govern- 
ment will have nothing to do with public works, either na- 
tional or international, as a means of providing employment. 
This was the second staggering blow!' 

Men of fyod Will 

It would be impossible to name all our speakers, but even 
this list is varied enough to prove to the most rabid anti- 
British American that their talks were not dictated by the 
British Government or inspired by national prejudice. On 
the other hand, Anglo-American friendship did not suffer 
by anything they said always assuming that this friend- 
ship of the English-speaking nations is a thing to be cher- 
ished and cultivated. Men like Lord Lothian and Sir Evelyn 
Wrench, economists like J. Maynard Keynes, Sir William 
Beveridge and Sir Josiah Stamp, speaking frankly on the 
problems that beset the two countries and the relations be- 
tween them have, I believe, done a great deal more than all 
the ' hands-across-the-sea ' orations that have been uttered 
since the war. 1 


It may be asked with some justice whether this principle 
doesn't work both ways. If Englishmen are to be encouraged 
to speak their minds freely to Americans, why not the other 
way about? It is perfectly true that for at least two years 
the voice of America, so far as England was concerned, was 
a 'melody unheard/ William Hard read a homily to England 
at Christmas, 1931; the president of Exeter Academy spoke 
on American education in 1932; a * literary round table* 
comprising Theodore Dreiser, Ernest Boyd, and George 
Jean Nathan wise-cracked in the hearing of a none-too- 
amused British audience in 1933. That was all, until on 
March 4 of that year the clarion voice of Franklin Delano 
Roosevelt, making his first inauguration speech, floated 
across the Atlantic and electrified all England with ringing 
phrases of hope, such as 'we have nothing to fear but fear/ 
It was this speech still remembered as a landmark in a 

1 Among the women the Duchess of Atholl, Lady Astor, Lady Rhondda, Miss 
Ishbel MacDonald, Miss Megan Lloyd George, Mrs. Mary Agnes Hamilton, and 
Miss Ellen Wilkinson contributed talks of genuine value. 

32. Hello ^America! 

country where public speaking is a fine art that awakened 
British broadcasting officials to the possibilities of a west-to- 
east traffic in radio talks. 

' Mr. Roosevelt's inaugural address thrilled the world/ 
said Lord Snowden, who never flattered anybody in his life. 
'I heard it clearly at my own fireside, and I felt that at last 
a statesman had arisen to challenge the injustices and shame 
of the present and to wage a valiant fight against them. His 
bold policy since then is magnificent. It remains to be seen 
if it will succeed/ 

When the following summer I made my periodic visit to 
America, the B.B.C. asked me to complete arrangements for 
a series of talks by prominent Americans, entitled 'American 
Points of View/ to be relayed to England alternately by 
Columbia and N.B.C. The first of these was made by Stuart 
Chase (on the economic situation), and the series included 
Madam Secretary Perkins, Governor John G. Winant of 
New Hampshire, and Pearl Buck. One would have thought 
that eminent Americans would have seized such an oppor- 
tunity with avidity, but strange to relate it was not pos- 
sible to enlist Senator Borah, nor Presidents Lowell and 
Conant of Harvard University, nor Owen Young, nor Sin- 
clair Lewis and Willa Gather. Herbert Hoover was too far 
away and William Allen White was taken ill before his 
broadcast was to take place. But in 1935 the B.B.C. ap- 
pointed a North American representative and an increasing 
amount of American material has crept into British pro- 
grams since then. 


It was due to a request by William S. Paley for more good 
news interpretation that I was able to arrange an exchange 
series called Transatlantic Bulletin, which was inaugurated 
early in 1935 and has continued, with occasional interrup- 
tions and attenuations, to the present time. This consists of 

*Men of (food Will 33 

entirely uncensored, frank, and remarkably truthful com- 
mentaries on events and political trends in the two coun- 
tries. Raymond Gram Swing, who proved himself one of the 
most masterful commentators in this field, has become the 
permanent and most highly accredited American interpreter 
known to England, and has created a following throughout 
Great Britain which rivals that of the most popular British 
commentators on their own ground. People of all classes, 
from the so-called intelligentsia to the working masses, 
listen to him with keen interest, and knowledge about Amer- 
ican conditions and problems among the general public has 
in consequence grown to a remarkable degree. 

The United States, in return, has heard a series of British 
journalists and commentators, of whom Vernon Bartlett, 
Sir Frederick Whyte, S. K. Ratcliffe, Stephen King-Hall, 
and Gerald Barry have been the most successful. Harold 
Nicolson, a first-class broadcaster but afflicted with an in- 
tensely English intonation, was it is sad to relate 
somewhat less successful, and on one occasion when he 
braved a heavy cold in order to do a broadcast at the 
inhuman hour of 3 A.M. (10 P.M. in New York), several ladies 
of the American audience had nothing better to do than 
write and upbraid him for his 'unmannerly' coughing and 
sneezing. His profuse apologies had been smothered by 
static, or just overheard. 

These men, unfettered by any political or other consider- 
ation, describing and interpreting fairly the scene in their 
own country to the presumably interested spectator across 
the Atlantic, must be ranked, and honorably so, with the 
' men of good will ' to whom this chapter is devoted. I am 
proud to have been associated with an enterprise which is 
still fraught with incalculable possibilities for good. 1 

1 A similar series of exchanges was subsequently arranged between France and 
the United States, and this has continued virtually without interruption. The 
leading French speaker of this weekly series is Pierre de Lanux, the American com- 
mentators (in French) included Percy Winner, now director of the N.B.C.'s short- 
wave service; Professor John B. Whitten of Princeton; and Pierre Bedard. 



T)OLITICS at its worst is a device for keeping people 
JL and peoples apart. At its best it is a means of bringing 
them together. But not the only means. So far as inter- 
national radio was concerned, I always felt that literature 
could do as much, or more. England and America, despite 
Mr. Mencken and his followers, do speak more or less the 
same language, and that one fact has shaped their joint 
destinies and will continue to shape them, more than any- 
thing else. The poets and the prophets of the English-speak- 
ing races, irrespective of nationality, are read wherever the 
language is spoken, and the best-sellers, thanks to the 
publishers, even more. But they should also be heard; 
things can be said that cannot be written, and who would 
agree that politicians should have a monopoly of the air, 
other than hot air? 

In the first summer of my radio quest I had a talk with 
John Masefield about this. He was then living on Boar's Hill, 
some miles outside Oxford in a remote but comfortable 
house fronting on a leafy country lane. He had become poet- 
laureate not long before, and, as I was gradually closing in on 
his retreat after motoring wild circles around it, I had to 
think of one of his predecessors, whose behavior caused an 
American headline writer to announce that the 'King's 
Canary Won't Sing.' Would this 'king's canary' refuse to 
sing? Not likely. In fact, as we got talking in one of the 
most cultivated and 'homey' interiors imaginable about 
the poet in modern life, he developed a theory according to 

Voets, TrofhetSj and 'Best-Sellers 35 

which poets should be heard rather than seen or read. 
Not since ancient times had the 'canary' had such a good 
chance to sing as now. Here is the burden of his theory, as he 
afterward told it to the American audience, in the first over- 
seas broadcast ever made by a poet. 


'In times past/ he said, 'poetry was the delight of every 
member of the community. The poet sang or spoke to all 
and was listened to with rapture by all. Then came the 
printing press, which at first was thought to be of great 
benefit to poets. I think it has become a detriment to 
poetical art, though priceless as a distributor of knowledge. 
It has had this result it has put away the poet from his 
public. Since the printing press came into being, poetry has 
ceased to be the delight of the whole community of man; it 
has become the amusement and delight of the few/ 

Actually this idea was not a new one with him: he had 
meditated on it for years, before broadcasting, and what is 
more, had done something about it. In the garden of his 
house he had built a barn-theatre and here, as a regular 
event, took place the 'Oxford Recitations' competitive 
recitations of poetry by young men and women at which 
Masefield ; his wife, Laurence Binyon, and other poets were 
the judges; It was an effort to raise a young generation of 
people who would think of poetry in terms of sound; here, 
too, the poet himself might speak to a limited but 'enrap- 
tured' audience. Masefield showed me his little theatre with 
the zest of a youngster showing his toys; play-acting was 
evidently the great pastime of the family and its friends, for 
heaps of gay costumes hung about ' back-stage,' and I had 
heard exciting tales of dramatic house-parties from Oxford 
students and young actors who had their first fling in Mase- 
field's Thespian barn. 

My coming had injected a new element into his theory. 

36 Hello ^America! 

'It may be that broadcasting may make listening to poetry a 
pleasure again. Though this,' he added pensively, 'can only 
come about with difficulty with a great deal of hard 
work * 

I wondered what he meant. Well, he meant that 'poets 
will work better at verse if they work before an audience 
they can see, so that they may know when their work fails 
and why/ Television had hardly been heard of, so that 
didn't enter our minds. 

Masefield was speaking softly, as is his habit thinking 
audibly rather than talking and with a wistful air. He is 
an unobtrusive man, this 'people's poet' anything but the 
robust and passionate creature you would suspect from the 
vigorous cuss- words of 'Nan' and the full-bodied tang of his 
sea-roving tales. His imagination was kindled by this new 
direction to his thoughts about the poet in modern life. But I 
thought he ought not merely to talk about it he ought to 
illustrate it by reciting his own verse. It took some time for 
him to decide, then one day I got a note: 

'Many thanks. Right. 5.15 P.M. the I4th, Sunday/ 

It was about the usual length of his epistles. A few days 
later he was giving his unseen audience one of the simplest 
and best definitions of poetry. 'Poetry,' he said, 'is an art in 
which the artist by means of rhythm and great sincerity can 
convey to others the sentiment which he feels about life.' 'I 
speak to you this afternoon,' he concluded, ' in the hope that 
poetry will again become one of the main delights of life and 
really compete once again with the delights of the market 

'Sea Fever' is one of the poems he recited in his radio 
debut, and the spoken version turned out to be slightly 
ever so slightly different from the printed one: 

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, 
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by 

But Masefield's example hasn't been followed not even by 
himself. Except for the reading of his official 'Ode' on King 
George's Jubilee, he has, so far as I know, never broadcast 

Trophets, and ^Best-Sellers 37 


As for the rest of the poets, we didn't have much luck. 
Not that I didn't try. Take Kipling, for instance. I wrote the 
most seductive letters to the man whom Robert Graves has 
called 'the literary aspect of the British Empire/ I knew he 
hated the very idea of broadcasting and thought I might 
persuade him in an interview, but in a most extra-polite letter 
from his secretary, pleading the master's crowded schedule, I 
was asked to ' correspond/ That was six years before he died, 
but not long enough to make him change his mind. In his 
idyllic snuggery in a fold of the 1 Sussex Downs he successfully 
fended off everything that smacked of publicity, and even 
his cousin Stanley Baldwin didn't often rouse him from his 
guarded seclusion, except on one or two really patriotic 
occasions. One of these came in July, 1933, when the Royal 
Society of Literature gave a luncheon in honor of the 
Canadian Authors' Association, and Kipling was persuaded to 
be one of the speakers. As all the proceedings were broadcast 
by the B.B.C. he could not prevent his voice from going to 
the outside world. I suggested an American rebroadcast, 
but just at this particular time the network was engaged and 
I had the chagrin of seeing my rivals walk off with the prize. 
The talk had nothing to do with poetry, but I remember one 
passage which revealed both the aristocrat of letters and the 
man. After speaking of 'our land's deep unconscious delight 
through all ages in her own strength and beauty and unjaded 
youth,' he said: 

'That same headlong surplus of effort and desire goes 
forward along other paths today. But our eyes are held. 
Like the generations before us, we cannot perceive among 
what new births of new wonders we now move. And all these 
things, out of our past, in our present, and for our future, are 
yours by right. 

'They are doubly yours, since the dominant strains of your 
blood draw from those twin races French and English 
which throughout their histories have been most resolute not 
to be decivilised on any pretext or for any gain/ 

38 Hello ^America! 

Once again, and once only, was Kipling's voice heard 'on 
the air,' a year before his death at the St. George's Day 
dinner of the society which bears the name of England's 
patron saint. His words were less felicitous that time: 
rearmament was in the air and the British lion was in a mood 
to roar. 

Then take Sir James Barrie, who, though not a poet in the 
literal sense, would be considered so by thousands of ad- 
mirers. Barrie held a kind of monopoly for whimsicality at 
after-dinner speeches, but must have felt that his whimsies 
would evaporate in the ether waves, for he resisted all in- 
vitations to broadcast with savage stubbornness. At last, 
when he was 'caught' by the B.B.C. on an occasion he 
couldn't evade, he came to the microphone, coughed, ex- 
cused himself for having a cold, made a quip about shattering 
ear-drums, coughed again, and announced that he was 
through. That was broadcast to America, and it cost a heap 
of money. 

John Drinkwater, whose death robbed England of a very 
versatile man, broadcast to America not only his own 
poetic prose about Lincoln, but the verses of Keats, from 
Keats's Hampstead home; and T. S. Eliot, the American- 
born poet whom Englishmen rate above most of their own 
contemporaries, broadcast a talk on Dryden. I wish it had 
been his own poetry instead, but American radio as yet pre- 
fers great names to human values. 


Masefield's hope that broadcasting might restore poetry to 
its original purpose might apply equally well to prose. In 
other words through radio not only the minstrel but the 
soothsayer might be reborn. 

This made me think of H. G. Wells, the greatest profes- 
sional prophet of our time. The Shape of Things to Come was 
his latest work in 1930, and I was fascinated both by its 

j Tropbets, and ^Best-Sellers 35 

fantasy and its uncanny prescience. Would Wells broadcast 
for me, as he had once done for the B.B.C. but on the 
world of tomorrow rather than the things of today? Wells 
has always soft-pedaled the artistic side of his nature; he 
wants to stress the social surgeon, the world-improver, the 
pamphleteer. That has tended to dim the glamour of his 
name; the public prefers the artist to the reformer, the 
crooner to the moralist. But in the role of prophet he gives 
himself away: his fantasy gets the better of his common sense. 
Or is it because, in the future, Truth and Ideal become inter- 
mingled? It takes both Wells's scientific speculation and his 
fictional fantasy to build the Utopia of our dreams. 

But when it comes to business, Wells is a very mundane, 
practical man. Yes, he would speak, but the price is so-and- 
so take it or leave it. I don't blame him. American 
broadcasting companies are not run by idealists; if you said 
so their executives would resent being called names. Having 
agreed on the fee and the subject, the next consideration was 
Wells's voice. ' From November to April in the English 
climate you can't hear me at all/ he laughed, * that's why 
I go to the Riviera for the winter. Better wait till I get back/ 
Well, I didn't want to wait: 'that' war might have come 
before spring (despite Wells, who put it at 1940), or the Big 
Executives might prefer profits to prophets by then. So we 
cleared the earliest possible date and just missed the first 
London fog. Wells's voice at best is little better than a 
wheeze, and my misgivings were pretty grave. 

Wells talked about 'The World of Our Grandchildren* in 
the first American broadcast of his career. It wasn't exactly 
an inspired talk; it was intensely practical. It took only one 
phase of our social life economy and showed where it 
would have to go, not whole-hog socialism, but collectivism 
from the angle of business. 'Mass consumption,' he said, 
would have to complement mass production. And what is 
the equivalent of mass production in terms of consumption? 
Community buying. He was definitely talking to children 
'our grandchildren.' 'Even now we have community buying 
for certain things. For instance, you buy battleships on a 
community basis. If we can buy battleships and submarines 

40 Hello ^America! 

and airships as a community, I refuse to believe that we can't 
buy hotels, perfectly equipped houses, and boots and shoes 
for all the children in the world in the same way. Collectively 
we could buy everything which we collectively produce/ 

And then he proceeded to predict the mass-production of 
houses and all sorts of things. Why do we insist on holding on 
to old and worn-out things, when there is surplus labor 
everywhere? We could, and should, change our houses and 
furniture as we change our cars and our clothes newer and 
better and more comfortable all the time which would of 
course be society's answer to the relentless fecundity of the 

4 Well, how was it?' asked Wells, as I dropped him at the 
door of his huge block of flats built over Baker Street railway 
station an example of our modern genius for the annihi- 
lation of the home atmosphere. 'Did I do my job all right?' 

Actually he filled the assignment much better in a talk he 
made a year later for the B.B.C. It was a very short talk, 
but one of the most terrifying I have ever heard; it illus- 
trated, moreover, what broadcasting can and ought to 
do, to awaken people's consciences to the most appalling 
possibilities of life. For once Wells was not concerned with 
Utopia, but with Pandemonium. It was the epilogue to a 
demonstration by sound-effects of the progress of Com- 
munication our much-vaunted abolition of distance. 

'In a little while,' he said, 'there will be no more distance 

left, and very little separation Let me ask you how long 

you suppose it is before it becomes possible for men to pack 
up a parcel of explosives or poison-gas or incendiary matter 
or any little thing of that sort and send it up into the air to 
travel to just any chosen spot in the world and drop its 
load?' _; 

So what? The point of the talk was that there are in the 
world thousands and thousands of professors working on the 
records of the past, but not a single person who makes a 
whole-time job of estimating the consequences of new de- 
vices in the future. 'There is not a single Professor of 
Foresight in the world.' Unless there will be, we shall tumble 
into one frightful mess after another, created by our own 

j Trophets, and "Best-Sellers 41 

cleverness and ingenuity. We shall be doing nothing but 
what we have been doing right along, in the case of the 
motor car, the aeroplane and we shall probably find 
the radio. 'We did nothing to our roads before they were 
choked' (with the result of an annual massacre of human 
life) to take but one example. 

'Let me draw a plain conclusion from tonight's audition/ 
he concluded. 'Either we must make peace throughout the 
world, make one world-state, one world-pax, with one money, 
one police, one speech and one brotherhood, however hard 
that task may seem, or we must prepare to live with the 
voice of the stranger in our ear, with the eyes of the stranger 
in our homes, with the knife of the stranger always at our 
throats, in fear and in danger of death, enemy neighbors 
with the rest of our species. Distance was protection, was 
safety, though it meant also ignorance and indifference and 
a narrow, unstimulated life. For good or for evil, distance 
has been done away with ... Will there be no foresight until 
those bombs begin to rain upon us?' 

Most people would say, of course, that this is sordid pes- 
simism. Wells could almost prove scientifically that his 
pessimism is the plain rational truth. 

There are few people outside my immediate circle whom I 
like better than H. G. Wells. There are few who have applied 
their brain power and his brain power is prodigious so 
exclusively to the service of mankind. And there are few 
more truly modest men that I have met. He has the humility 
that goes with greatness; the fine simplicity that is the 
attribute of the wise. And even he couldn't be sorrier than 
I would be to see him really grow old. 

'Don't congratulate me,' he said, when I met him shortly 
after his seventieth birthday. 'It's a horrid feeling to be 
reminded that one's getting near to the end.' He was looking 
quite well, however; his sturdy, always well-groomed figure 
and his handsome purposeful face with the boyish smile 
were, as ever, a challenge to the Philistine on his own 
ground. A few days later, at the P.E.N. Club dinner in his 
honor I heard him make the most pathetic speech an anti- 
sentimentalist could be capable of. 'I feel as though I were 

42. Hello ^America! 

still in the nursery, playing with my nicest toys, and Nurse 
opens the door to say: "Come now, George, it's bedtime 
put those toys away." . . . Well, it'll soon be time to put the 
toys away, and there's still so much to be done.' x 

Last time I asked him to broadcast, he refused. But it was 
the wrong time of the year! 


On Christmas Day, 1930 my first broadcasting Christ- 
mas I arrived at the old Savoy Hill studios of the B.B.C. 
and was told that my speaker was waiting for me in the 
drawing-room, a plain, square, modernized room whose sober 
walls were enlivened by vivid reproductions of master- 
pieces of Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Mattisse. There, on a low 
sofa, among the French modernists, squatted the incredible, 
flamboyantly anti-modern figure of Gilbert Keith Chester- 
ton. This gigantic nineteenth-century Bacchus, with an Eng- 
lish tension-spring pince-nez insecurely poised on his nose, 
and dressed in the loose garb of the literary Bohemian a 
character out of Murger raised to Gargantuan proportions 
and adapted to the Dickensian scene was an apparition 
so preposterous as to call for reassurance. And he hastened 
to reassure me, with a smile and an excuse for not rising, 
which indeed seemed an impossible exercise. 

I had invited Chesterton to talk about Dickens, because, 
according to Chesterton himself, there was nothing else to 
talk about on Christmas Day. 'Christmas and Dickens 
remain the only things worth talking about,' he said, 'be- 
cause modern religion, philosophy, and literature have pro- 
duced no substitute for either.' At any rate they were a fit 
subject for this uncommon defender of the commonplace, 
this religious apostle of sensuality, this virtuoso of the para- 
dox, this champion leg-puller of the highbrow 'humorists.' 

He was in jolly mood; I had thrown him a bone, and here 

1 Wells's literary output consists of eighty-five volumes to date. 

'Poets, Trophets, and "Best-Sellers 43 

he was, licking his chops over the succulent slivers of 
satirical meat. An attendant came to show us to the studio. 

1 1 suppose you think I can't get up?' he said. 'See how 
I do it!' 

And with an astonishing, perfectly calculated movement 
he rolled over to kneel on the floor, then gradually raised 
himself up by his powerful arms, while his wife watched 
him with confident solicitude. There he stood, three-hun- 
dred-odd pounds of unashamed vitality, panting but trium- 
phant and we went forth to war. One of the party had to 
walk to save the elevator. 

Christmas and Dickens and Chesterton proved a perfect 
combination for sheer intellectual acrobatics. 'There is no 
occasion, no date, no day, that has been able to do what 
Christmas does; and there is no writer among all the brilliant 
modern writers who has been able to do what Dickens did.' 
That was his dictum, and for fifteen minutes he defended it 
by shooting deft arrows at unseen adversaries, never for- 
getting that he was talking to Americans: 

'I deny,' he said, 'that Elmer Gantry is a Christmas pre- 
sent. I deny that anyone wants Theodore Dreiser thrust 
into his Christmas stocking.' The muck-rakers, the pessi- 
mists, the heretics, the atheists, the 'modern pagans' all 
came in for a dressing-down. Especially the last. 

'It has been said that the modern pleasure-seekers are 
pagans and that all their life of jazz and cocktails is merely a 
life of pagans. This seems to me a harsh judgment. I mean, 
of course, that it is hard on the pagans. 

'The pagan gods and goddesses of the past were never so 
tinselly as the fast sets and smart people of the present. 
Venus was never so vulgar as what they now call sex appeal. 
Cupid was never so coarse or common as a modern realistic 
novel. The old pagans were imaginative and creative. They 
made things and built things. ... If we were pagans we 
should be content with nothing less than the worship of 
beauty. If we were pagans there would be a Temple of 
Venus in Hollywood. If we were pagans there would be a 
Temple of Bacchus in Milwaukee. There would be a Temple 
of Mercury at the end of Wall Street. I admit it is a curious 

44 Hello ^America! 

coincidence that he was also the god of flight. But anyhow 
the point is that the pagans could mix things; they could 
make festivals, and if they were still alive they could make 
an alternative to Christmas/ 

As I said, he kept it up for fifteen minutes and he had his 
fling at everybody that got in his way; just as he had tilted 
at Shaw and Wells in his writings before the war. But now 
the spoken word his voice, his dryness, his quiet, half- 
disgusted drawl, his wheezes and his pauses, all heightened 
the effect; here at last was the radio satirist, the eighteenth- 
century wit transferred from the coffee house to the studio. 
Had he died fifteen years earlier than he did, radio would 
have missed a great pioneer. 

The B.B.C. had, indeed, discovered him, and his sparkling 
polemics were to enliven their programs increasingly till the 
year of his death. Several times he was relayed to America. 
The last time he figured in a special American transmission 
was when we broadcast, from the heart of Soho, an 'initiation 
ceremony* of the Detection Club (so called because it con- 
sisted of detective story writers), of which he was presi- 
dent. In the rather dilapidated ancient house (once the resi- 
dence of Lord Mansfield, chief justice of England), having 
been carried up the steep stairs on a chair by four stalwart 
members, he administered the oath with appropriate mock 
solemnity on the skull of 'Eric/ the mascot of the club. The 
ritual, with its weird procession, its bogus mystery and 
ridiculous mumbo-jumbo, filled him with childish delight 
and brought out unsuspected histrionic powers in the creator 
of 'Father Brown/ In the audience, whom he exhorted to 
'honor the King's English* and abstain from sundry ab- 
surdities in the writing of detective stories, were Dorothy 
Sayers, Helen Simpson, Marjory Allingham, Anthony 
Berkeley, A. A. Milne, and other best-sellers whose com- 
bined circulation reached into millions. Anyone sneezing 
influenza germs in that crowded, smoky room could have 
cut down the world's output of the best detective fiction by 
fifty per cent. 

When the grotesque figure of Chesterton, with flying cape 
and enormous, broad-brimmed hat, disappeared around the 

Toets, Trofbets, and 'Best-Sellers 45 

corner of Gerrard Street that Sunday evening, it was the 
last I ever saw of him. He loved living too well to grow old. 


Now, what about the best-sellers outside this charmed 
circle of mystery merchants? On the whole I have found 
that popular novelists are not particularly willing broad- 
casters. Mr. Noel Coward, for instance, is usually much too 
busy producing a play, or somewhere on the Riviera re- 
covering from a success. Mr. Michael Arlen's valet is the 
nearest I have ever been able to get to him, so that was that. 
Aldous Huxley, highbrow among intellectuals, epicure 
among esthetes, is a perfectly charming man, but when I 
asked him to talk to mere Americans, he didn't reply. For 
John Galsworthy quiet, shy man that he was the 
microphone held unknown terrors. For five years or more I 
tried to lure him and he never really refused. The last time 
I saw him, when he was still presiding over the P.E.N. Club, 
although illness had been slowing him down for years, he 

46 Hello ^America! 

said meekly, 'Well, I shall have to do it for you one day/ 
But he died before he took that hurdle, and his voice was 
never heard by anyone but his colleagues and friends. 

But even if willing, fiction writers are not always success- 
ful at the microphone. I know of two cases where a slight 
impediment of speech made it impossible even to ask, 
without hurting a man's feelings. And then though it's 
dangerous to generalize the radio has taken less kindly to 
fiction than to truth. Which does not mean that novelists 
can't tell the truth, but they can't always make it as inter- 
esting as fiction, and a man always wants to give of his 

But there are those that can. J. B. Priestley, for instance, 
is so successful at telling people the truth, and in broad York- 
shire, too, that he got himself into a peck of trouble with the 
newspaper reporters in New York. And only a week or so 
earlier he had addressed a large section of the American 
public by radio from London, to try to give them an idea of 
how thrilled he was over the prospect of discovering the 
'Unknown Continent.' That was the title of the talk; we 
tried to think of something appropriate, and as he was about 
to visit, for the first time, the country that was paying him 
the largest part of his royalties, what could be better than 
give his fancy free rein about the reputed wonders of New 
York's 'ivory and rose and amethyst towers, like Babylon 
piled on Babylon, like some starry capital of lost Atlantis'? 
That was the way a poetic novelist imagined it; when he got 
there he could always tell the truth as he saw it. 

That's where he made his mistake. Sailing up New York 
Bay on a murky morning, possibly with a hang-over from the 
Captain's dinner, facing a platoon of 'tough guys' and a 
battery of cameras taking unflattering snap-shots, was the 
wrong time for a chunky, unimpressed, and unimpressive 
Yorkshireman to tell the unvarnished truth. Also he didn't 
know that the New York skyline is the ship reporter's 
esthetic religion. The result was some rather disastrous 

However, publicity is publicity, and Priestley has a talent 
for getting it. Next time he broadcast from London it was 

"Poets, "Prophets, and ^Best-Sellers 47 

for the B.B.C., but we in America were rebroadcasting the 
talk. It was called 'To a Highbrow/ and excelled in calling 
his particular bete noire all kinds of names. When he arrived 
at the studio he was minus his script, thinking that the 
B.B.C. staff, who always insist on having duplicates in ad- 
vance, would be there with the goods. But they couldn't 
find a copy. He offered to improvise, or trust to memory, 
but that idea was too revolutionary. It wasn't done. So 
the minutes ticked by twenty of them and both Eng- 
land and America had a lovely silence, interrupted only 
by the announcer's casual words of hope in beautiful 
highbrow's English. 

The resultant publicity was so 'good' that I had to pro- 
cure a copy of the script for the newspapers. Reading such 
phrases as, * You're the Pharisee among the arts . . . You 
never fail to admire the gulf that lies between you and the 
common herd . . . You decide God knows why to over- 
emphasize your sibilants . . . You pretend to understand 
and enjoy things you don't understand and enjoy' I 
wondered if somebody hadn't lost that manuscript acciden- 
tally on purpose. 


Hugh Walpole, a best-seller in England and a super-best- 
seller in America, spoke for me twice in the early days. 
He, too, 'looked at America,' but with quite unexceptionable 
eyes. The son of a bishop, with a flat in Piccadilly and an 
estate in Cumberland, friend of Tenor Melchior and Pugilist 
Tunney, collector of Epstein sculptures and Beerbohm 
caricatures, as perfect an English gentleman as Hollywood 
has ever seen, could not be anything but kind-hearted and 
polite but unfortunately I don't remember what he said. 

Then there was the late-lamented Edgar Wallace, who 
wore the mantle of Conan Doyle with a rakish air. His out- 
put was fabulous and suggested the moving belt. One of the 

48 Hello ^America! 

best-hearted men that ever lived, he started in Fleet Street 
and came to live in Portland Place, with a country estate on 
the river Thames, a string of racehorses and an income that 
was incalculable. His bets were sensational and he was a 
famous prophet of the turf. But he lost everything but his 
cockney accent, and died though he didn't know it 
heavily in debt. His ten-inch ivory cigarette holder, sticking 
upwards out of his mouth, was a landmark in the London 
hotels and sporting clubs. He couldn't ever deny a favor 
asked by a pal (and all newspapermen were his pals) ; so 
busy as he was he came along and spoke a piece for me on 
Daniel Defoe, the first best-seller in English fiction and the 
Father of them all. It was a good journalistic piece of 
literary criticism. 

Another time I went to him for a short drama to be 
written especially for the radio. The price was ridiculously 
low for Edgar Wallace since radio drama hasn't the 
earning capacity of the stage. While we were talking, his 
mind began to work and he became interested. * There 
should be three or four characters, not more/ he mused; 'the 
woman accused of the murder, her barrister, the Crown's 
attorney, and the Judge. She isn't guilty, of course, and the 
whole story unravels during her evidence and cross-examina- 
tion. The man who was found shot . . . ' And so he was off, 
composing the whole scenario in front of me. I realized that 
his detractors were wrong: Edgar Wallace wrote everything 

'All right/ he said, 'seeing it's you, my pal; when do you 
want it?' 

A week or two later he delivered the manuscript. By the 
time his check came from America, he was dead. It didn't 
go far towards liquidating his debts. 

Going farther afield we got Lion Feuchtwanger, German 
refugee author, to speak about his c trade ' that of the 
historical novelist, and why people read him. And pink- 
faced, platinum-blonde Vicki Baum, author of Grand Hotel^ 
pendulating between Berlin and Hollywood, gave a talk on 
America, reversing the process adopted by Priestley, and so 

'Poets j TropbetSj and ^Best-Sellers 49 

playing safe. As she 'fell in love with America the very 
first week, and this kept on growing every day/ her job 
wasn't difficult. But she, too, had to tackle that 'skyline I 
had heard so much about/ Well: 

'It was a chilly, misty morning. The statue of Liberty 
stood wrapped in fog and looked a little disappointing. Then 
came the reporters boys and girls and they were so 
nice awfully nice and they took me into the smoking- 
room and asked me questions and had so much patience and 
listened so kindly to my stammering answers. And when 
they were gone, the skyline was gone too it had passed 
during the interviews. And I had to discover in the evening 
papers that I thought the famous skyline of New York was 
"not so hot!" 

And that's the way to handle that situation Mr. 
Priestley (and others) please note! 

It's a far cry from Masefield to Vicki Baum, and there is 
hardly a literary giant of this generation who wouldn't fit 
into that wide sweep. Most of them I managed to 'hook' in 
the first year of transatlantic broadcasting. Most of them, 
with one notable exception. And that was George Bernard 



NEVER shall I forget my first attempt to 'get Shaw/ 
I knew it would be a tough job, but the assignment 
left me plenty of scope. I was not to get him to talk on any 
particular subject, but 'on anything/ George Bernard 
Shaw might be the world's greatest living writer to his 
biographer; x to the American audience he was Public Joke- 
ster No. i, and ' any thing ' would presumably raise the desired 
laugh. What most people didn't realize, however, is that he 
was very particular about his jokes. 'My way of joking/ he 
once said, 'is telling the truth. That is the funniest joke in 
the world/ 

Another mistaken notion about Shaw was that he is just 
out for publicity. He may be out for it, but not 'just/ You 
can't eat publicity; and, anyway, an ascetic playwright 
nearing eighty doesn't eat very much. Nobody since Queen 
Victoria has reached that age with so much limelight playing 
about him, and there is a limit to the endurance of the human 
eye. When, years ago, he put down for Who ' s Who that his 
chief recreation was 'showing off,' he probably meant it, but 
it is creation without the prefix that has filled out most 
of his time. 

When, on a chilly afternoon in the spring of 1930, I drove 
out to Shaw's modest country place in Hertfordshire, I knew 
that this supposedly cantankerous Irishman had never 
broadcast before, but I didn't know why. He had, it is true, 
read his little play, O'Flaherty, F.C., from a B.B.C. studio 

1 Archibald Henderson: Contemporary Immortals, New York, 1930. 

(jet Shaw on ^Anything! 

in the very earliest days of broadcasting nine years before. 
He had, as I found out later, presided at a public debate on 
'The Menace of the Leisured Woman ' between Lady 
Rhondda and G. K. Chesterton, and that debate had been 
broadcast, too. But he had never, in all the ten years of 
British broadcasting, done what you would expect Shaw to 
do walk up to a microphone in a broadcasting studio and 
lecture the people of England, Ireland, and the world in 
general on the absurdity of their behavior, in the classic 
Shavian way. I didn't know why not; and although I didn't 
find out till years afterward, I must, for the purpose of this 
story, tell about it now. 


All of Shaw's utterances are somehow on the record, 
usually in the public prints. No man living or dead has been 
as eagerly quoted as he; no public character has been so 
persistently fertile as newspaper 'copy* for the last forty 
years. Yet, in looking up his case history with reference to 
broadcasting, I had not been able to find the text of his 
remarks in that debate. I finally looked up the back issues 
of Lady Rhondda's weekly, Time and Tide, where the debate 
was recorded, but very little was quoted from Shaw. I 
appealed to the editor for the complete text, but it couldn't 
be found. When I was on the point of sailing for New York, 
with the ail-but completed manuscript of this book in my 
trunk, I received from Lady Rhondda's assistant editor a 
bunch of faded typescript which I hadn't time to look at till 
the Queen Mary was out at sea. And then I discovered that 
it was a complete, stenographic report of the debate, dug out 
of the archives of Time and Tide, and as I began to read it I 
discovered the key to Shaw's protracted silence on the air, as 

When broadcasting in England was first authorized by 
the Government, the conditions of operation specifically ex- 

52. Hello ^America! 

eluded all 'controversial' matter from the air. This edict 
wasn't directed against anyone in particular, but it auto- 
matically excluded a man like Shaw, who refused ever to 
submit anything he wanted to say to the scrutiny of any man 
on earth. Imagine, therefore, what must have been the dis- 
may of the B.B.C. officials when they discovered that the 
above-mentioned public debate between two eminently 'safe' 
people was to be refereed by Shaw, and that, instead of 
confining his remarks to a mere introduction and summing- 
up, this referee took the opportunity to explode a verbal 
bomb. As might have been expected, he exploited the 
situation with diabolical glee. 

'Ladies and gentlemen,' he said (according to the ver- 
batim report), 'I must ask you to be very specially on your 
good behavior tonight because what is happening at present 
is not merely Mr. Bernard Shaw addressing a crowded and 
prematurely enthusiastic audience in the Kingsway Hall. It 
is London calling the British Isles and the universe in 
general. 1 . . . We are being broadcast, and the condition 
under which broadcasting is conducted in this country is that 
nothing of a controversial nature must be spoken from the 
platform or anywhere else, except by members of the Govern- 
ment. (Laughter and cheers.) How an animated and pos- 
sibly embittered controversy is to be carried on if neither of 
the speakers is to become controversial, I cannot tell you. 
I am sorry to say that I cannot undertake to keep order in 
that respect because one of the conditions of broadcasting in 
this country is that I myself, individually and personally, am 
not to be allowed to broadcast under any terms whatever. 
Therefore my task is somewhat difficult. My duty as chair- 
man obliges me at all hazards to preserve the right of the 
speakers to be as controversial as they please on any subject 
whatever, in spite of all the Postmasters and Governments 
in the world. (Laughter.) That duty I shall fulfill. 

'But now observe what that will lead us to. Probably at 
this moment the Postmaster-General is listening in. He is 
realizing that I am speaking. His panic is probably growing 
with every sentence that falls from my lips. How am I to be 

1 A slight Shavian exaggeration, in pre-short-wave days. 

Cjet Shaw on ^Anything! 53 

stopped? ... I do not know, but it is evident to me that the 
Postmaster-General may call out the Guards. If you find, 
then, an energetic force of military and police breaking into 
this hall, destroying the microphone and leading me away in 
custody, I must ask you not to offer any resistance. (Laugh- 
ter.) Your remedy is a constitutional one. You must vote 
against the Government at the next election. (Laughter and 

1 Now some of you may reply that it is no remedy for you 
because you already intended to vote against the Government. 
Well, you have one more remedy. I believe it to be a strictly 
constitutional one. I am now speaking, not only to you, 
ladies and gentlemen assembled in this hall, but to the rest of 
the eight million persons who are listening in. I suggest to 
you that if every one of you writes a letter to the Postmaster- 
General telling him what you think of him, you will be 
strictly inside the letter of the law, you will contribute an 
enormous sum in three-halfpenny stamps to the revenue, 
and you will make it absolutely certain that no postmaster- 
general will ever attempt to interfere with freedom of speech 
in England again.' (Loud cheers.) 

That, then, was Shaw's first broadcast and for all one 
could tell his last. No wonder he wasn't invited again. 
No wonder the Times famous for its verbatim reports 
didn't print his remarks. What must have happened be- 
hind the scenes between the Government and the B.B.C. is 
nobody's business, for no doubt hundreds, perhaps thou- 
sands, had taken Shaw's advice about writing to the Post- 
master-General. A year or two later his prediction about 
free speech had come true: the lid was off, controversy was 
permitted on the British air. 

But Shaw had not broadcast yet. On his seventieth birth- 
day he had been asked to contribute some sage remarks 
appropriate to the occasion, if he would submit his manu- 
script in advance, but he told the authorities where they 
could go. That was the situation when I arrived with the 
proposal that Shaw should broadcast to the United States. 
The only certainty, at that date, was that you couldn't 
censor Shaw. 

54 Hello ^America! 


For me there were other difficulties, too. Shaw himself 
hadn't decided what broadcasting really was. Was it author- 
ship? In that case who would pay his price? Was it public 
speaking? Since it was his principle only to speak when he 
had an axe to grind, and then gratuitously, he would have to 
make the broadcasting rajahs a valuable present, which 
surely they didn't deserve. But my trepidations were chiefly 
due to Shaw's reputation as a 'savage,' where intruders are 
concerned; the stories of his candid treatment of people he 
didn't happen to like were not reassuring in the least. He 
was a hard man to interview, the most elusive target for the 
lion-hunter, the most impossible man to enlist in the usual 
kind of 'good cause.' Nor could he be lured by flattery, 
however subtle; his shrewd eye would detect the purpose 
and force you to come to the point. And once his mind was 
made up, it was impossible to argue him out of his decision. 

My previous acquaintance with the great man was slight. 
But my friend Albert Coates, orchestral conductor and 
Wagner specialist, was my sponsor, so we dropped in with- 
out warning and were given tea by that charming home- 
body, Mrs. Shaw, after she had sounded a shrill pea-whistle 
to summon her spouse from his garden haunt. Here, in a 
revolving sunshine hut, Shaw was correcting the proofs of his 
collected works, and he was glad of an excuse for interrupting 
a 'boresome' task. He didn't take tea, for he never does, but 
watched us tolerantly while discoursing on the relative merits 
of Wagner and Verdi. (I discovered that this one-time music 
critic was still the 'perfect Wagnerite,' who didn't share the 
moderns' high opinion of Verdi Billow's 'Italian hurdy- 
gurdy man'). 

How I injected politics and radio into that esthetic 
homily I can't remember, but presently he had poured scorn 
on the London Naval Treaty, which was about to be signed, 
and which was certainly not worth a broadcast from him. 
And what about another subject in fact 'anything'? 

Shaw on *Any thing! 55 

* What will you pay me a million dollars ?' he said, in his 
still perceptible Dublin brogue. Then, after a moment, 
'Don't bother about it/ 

I knew he was having his little joke at the expense of 
Americans, and found that what he needed first of all was 
not anything but something to talk about. 'Whatever 
reputation I have/ he confided, 'is due to the fact that I 
never open my mouth unless I have something to say.* So 
we left it at that until the desired subject should pop into 
his head or mine. 

I spent the summer holidays trying to think up subjects 
for Shaw. Nothing suitable turned up. But by keeping in 
touch I managed to get a broadcast not a genuine one, 
but a public speech. That autumn a great dinner was given 
in London in honor of Professor Einstein, for the benefit of 
the suffering Jews in the Near East. Shaw was caught off his 
guard: he was persuaded to speak, and the minute I heard 
about it, I rang up the B.B.C. It was Shaw's re-entry into 
broadcasting by the back door. The result was that the 
proceedings were not only broadcast, but 'relayed' to 

Toasting the world's most famous Jew was just pie for 
Shaw. Sitting beside the Chief Rabbi of London, the fair, 
blue-eyed, white-bearded Irish free-thinker donned a black 
skull-cap in deference to the Orthodox Jews who were present 
in great numbers, and turned eastward while prayers were 
intoned. Then, with characteristic Shavian 'cheek/ he 
began by putting Isaac Newton in his place. 

'Facts/ he said, 'will never stop an Englishman/ So 
Newton 'invented' the straight line and gravitation and the 
Newtonian universe, which lasted until a young man had a 
look at it and said: 'Newton did not know what happened 
to the apple and I can prove this when the next eclipse comes 
along. The heavenly bodies go in curves because it is the 
natural way for them to go/ And so 'the whole Newtonian 
Universe crumpled up and was succeeded by the Einstein 

This was Shaw 'on anything' with a vengeance with 
a speech by Einstein thrown in for good measure. But still 

56 Hello ^America! 

Shaw hadn't 'broadcast* that is, spoken into a micro- 
phone for the benefit of unseen listeners alone, nor had he 
spoken at a time when all America could listen. Every few 
weeks I rang him up. He would come to the telephone him- 
self and try to put me off. Now and again he would ask me 
to come along and see him, and next morning I would be 
sitting in his London flat, high up overlooking the Thames, 
with Shaw on one side of the fire, I on the other, and Miss 
Patch, his faithful secretary, a few feet away. And in a 
conversation that was usually two against one he would 
knock down one idea after another. 

'The Future of Kingship/ I suggested once. 'I've said all 
I have to say on that in The Apple-Cart; let them go and see 

'What about the talkies are they the dramatist's 
future vehicle ? ' 

'Nonsense; talkies don't interest me.' 

And so on. Next time another batch of subjects would 
share the same fate. Nor could his interest be roused on the 
centenary of Mark Twain one of his great favorites and a 
'kindred spirit.' Nobody with the sense of Mark Twain 
would want any fuss made about him just because he would 
be a hundred, had he lived. Still another time there was to be 
a broadcast in America by the Irish poet George Russell 
('A.E.') and I asked Shaw to 'introduce' him from London. 
'Nothing could be sillier,' he wrote me on one of his famous 
postcards, 'than this introduction business, wasting half the 
speaker's time and dividing the interest. I have no patience 
with such folly. Let the Announcer do it, in not more than 
thirty words.' But these things were just outbursts of the 
professional. My friends at the B.B.C. used to catch it 
worse than that. 

'You don't mind my bothering you like this?' I asked him 
one day, returning to the charge with further suggestions. 
'Not in the least,' he retorted; 'but I don't believe it's any 
good anyway, your people wouldn't let me say what I 

I mustered all the outraged pride I could and told him that 
there is no censorship of broadcasts in America. 

et Shaw on ^Anything! 



J W 

LJ > 
h J 




'Suppose, now, I wanted to talk about Russia?' 
'Splendid!' I exclaimed; 'let's have a little talk about 


'Well,' he chuckled, 'we must see about that You've 

certainly advanced matters a bit today' was his good-bye. 


The following summer Shaw went to Russia, in the com- 
pany of Lady Astor and some representative English people. 
It is more than likely that our last conversation was respon- 
sible for the trip. Soon after it he had seen Sokolnikoff, the 

58 Hello ^America! 

Soviet ambassador (who a few years later was to be tried 
and 'convicted* as a Trotskyist), and Sokolnikoff in answer 
to a request for information had suggested that Shaw go and 
see for himself. Within a few months of his return he finally 
succumbed to my blandishments and agreed to speak. I was 
careful not to ask for a 'script/ His public speeches that had 
been broadcast were ex tempore; this time he had written out 
every word and rehearsed it; he knew he had just fourteen 
minutes and he took no risks of overrunning. (My introduc- 
tion was short!) I had no idea what was coming, though I 
saw a wicked twinkle in his eye, and Mrs. Shaw whispered 
to me as we entered the little B.B.C. studio: 'It's very cheeky, 
you know/ 

It was. Shaw is past-master at shocking people into taking 
notice. And there is no surer way of doing that than by 
calling them names. It may be a crude way, but it worked, 
and proved Shaw right in calculating his audience. When he 
sat down behind that microphone in old Savoy Hill and 
addressed them as 'you dear old boobs/ he knew what he was 
doing, for there wasn't a newspaper in the United States 
next day that hadn't taken his bait. No radio speech had 
ever been more widely quoted, none had drawn such volu- 
minous and vituperative comment. If Shaw was indulging 
in 'recreation,' he must have been having a marvellous 
time; but he was only having his favorite joke telling the 
truth, as he saw it. A fellow-playwright of Shaw's, James 
Bridie, says that some time ago Mr. Shaw became the 
official Sage of the British Isles. Now, at seventy-five, he 
may have had an ambition to be recognized as the Sage of 
the English-speaking world. In any case, deep down he was 
in dead earnest. Not even he would go to the trouble of 
writing a little masterpiece of dialectics and delivering it 
gratis, unless he were deeply concerned. Think of what it 
must have cost him to be facetious about a matter which all 
his life has been his religion! 

No one least of all Shaw would pretend that the 
'Little Talk about Russia' was a great political or economic 
document. How long would an accurately thought-out study 
of Russian state socialism have held the attention of millions 

B. B. C. 

Shaw's 'You dear old boobs,' the only talk, thus far, addressed 
to America alone 

G.P.O. Film Unit 

Wells talked about 'The World of Our Grandchildren' in the 
first American broadcast of his career 

<^et Shaw on *Any thing! 59 

of ' boobs ' ? Shaw had sized up the American radio audience, 
and his verdict was not flattering. After all, if one must 
compete with the inanities of jazz and * script acts/ he must 
produce something with the same amount of punch. 

'Russia has the laugh on us. She has us fooled, beaten, 
shamed, shown up, outpointed, and all but knocked out/ 
True or not true, this made people sit up. 

'Your President [Hoover], who became famous by feeding 
the starving millions of waj-devastated Europe, cannot feed 
his own people in the time of peace/ If many of his listeners 
hadn't agreed with him, they wouldn't have voted for 
Roosevelt in such overwhelming numbers the next year. 

'Our agriculture is ruined and our industries collapsing 
under the weight of their own productiveness because we 
have not found out how to distribute our wealth as well as 
to produce it.' No professor of economics nowadays would 
quarrel with that. Nor will any professor of history deny 
that Lenin and his friends 'took command of the Soviets 
and established the U.S.S.R. exactly as Washington and 
Jefferson and Hamilton and Franklin and Tom Paine had 
established the United States of America one hundred and 
forty-one years before/ 

He then suggested an amusing Sunday game. 'Make a col- 
lection of the articles in the royalist newspapers and political 
pamphlets, American as well as British, issued during the 
last quarter of the eighteenth century. Strike out the dates, 
the name of the country, and the names of its leaders. The 
game is for your friends to fill up the blanks. What country 
is this, you will ask, which has broken every social bond and 
given itself over to anarchy and infamy at the bidding of a 
gang of atheists, drunkards, libertines, thieves and assassins? 
Your friends will guess wrong. When the right answer is 
America, they will guess Russia. When the right name is 
Washington, they will cry Trotsky. They will declare that 
. . . Jefferson is Lenin, that Franklin is Litvinoff, that Paine 
is Lunacharsky, that Hamilton is Stalin. When you tell 
them the truth, they will probably never speak to you 
again; but you will have given them a valuable moral lesson, 
which ought to be the object of all Sunday games/ 

60 Hello ^America! 

Of course the gibing editorials didn't quote this. They 
cited some of Shaw's figures on Russia and dismissed them 
by saying 'bosh'; they seized upon his flights of enthusiasm 
and omitted his warning that Russia was not yet a paradise. 
'Russia is too big a place/ he said, 'for any government to 
get rid in fourteen years of the frightful mess of poverty, 
ignorance, and dirt left by the Czardom. ... I am afraid 
there is a good deal of the poverty, ignorance, and dirt we 
know so well at home, but there is hope everywhere in 
Russia because these evils are retreating there before the 
spread of communism as steadily as they are advancing upon 
us before the last desperate struggle of our bankrupt capital- 
ism to stave off its inevitable goal by reducing wages, multi- 
plying tariffs, and rallying all the latent savagery and greed 
in the world to its support in predatory warfare masquerad- 
ing as patriotism.' 

A jokester? America got what it asked for; but the trouble 
is that nobody likes a serious joke. So not only the papers 
but the politicians and the churchmen turned on him the 
churchmen because of the religious fervor they detected in 
his words. (Churches don't attack infidels; they 'convert' 
them. But they^/%A/ rival religions.) And so the Columbia 
network had to give an eminent cleric a chance to answer 
Shaw on the air. Shaw's attackers couldn't have pleased him 
better if they tried. 


'Part showman, part schoolmaster/ the astute Mr. 
Bridie calls Shaw. He thoroughly lived up to it in this 
broadcast and those he has made since then. For this talk 
and the one he made that summer on Joan of Arc (for 
England, but rebroadcast in the United States) broke the ice. 
Largely, thanks to Shaw, 'controversial' broadcasting was 
now permitted in Great Britain, and if anybody accuses the 
British broadcasting authorities of muzzling anybody they 

(jet Shaw on ^Anything! 61 

need only point to Shaw. In the half-dozen talks he has 
made for them, at the rate of about one a year, he has 
lectured them without restraint on morals, on politics, 
on economics, on education, and even religion with the 
fearlessness of a Fox and the wit of a Swift. 

He debunked every hero and every subject he touched. 
Joan of Arc had 'no sex appeal/ but was an inveterate 
soldier who wanted to go on fighting when there was no 
more fighting to do. Her career was, according to Shaw, the 
career of the Pankhursts and the Trotskys of our day. 
Concerning Freedom he told Englishmen to 'stop gassing 
about it/ because they didn't know what it was, 'never 
having had any/ Disarmament, as discussed in Geneva, 
didn't rouse his interest, because 'if I'm to be killed by a shell 
I prefer it to be as big as possible, as it will give the occasion 
importance and make a bigger noise.' And the pious effusions 
about the Empire he countered with this: ' If I were a stranger 
from another planet I should say that an attempt to com- 
bine England with India before England was combined with 
the United States on the one side and with all her Western 
neighbors on the other, is a crazy reversal of the natural order 
of things, and cannot possibly last.' 

One of the most courageous things the B.B.C. ever did 
was to allow Shaw to speak about schools in a series designed 
'for sixth forms' (which correspond to the top grade in an 
American high school). For if, as many people think, the 
average grown-up has got Shaw's number and knows that 
he's 'just a buffoon/ the young and impressionable, about to 
be graduated from school, cannot be trusted to have such 
superior judgment. Speaking to the schoolboys of England 
just about the time when the air vibrates with valedictories, 
when examinations are being struggled with and the Young 
Hopefuls are about to go out into the world, Shaw was per- 
mitted to tell them that 'school was to me a sentence of 
penal servitude'; and that 'I could not read schoolbooks, 
because they are written by people who do not know how to 

'Some of your schoolfellows/ he calmly warned his 
juvenile audience, 'may surprise you by getting hanged. 

62. Hello ^America! 

Others, of whom you have the lowest opinion, will turn out 
to be geniuses, and become of the great men of your time/ 

Superficially it was just one joke after another, though 
once again, on closer examination, the jokes were all true. 
But equally true was the confession of the octogenarian: 
' I am an old man before I have quite got the habit of think- 
ing of myself as a boy/ 

By virtue of these talks Shaw is, I think, to be rated 
with Chesterton as one of the world's first radio satirists. 
As a public speaker he was perhaps less effective than he 
would like to have been. His rather pugnacious attitude 
and his tendency to a kind of didactic bullying were apt to 
defeat their own object. At the microphone, however, his 
manner never irritates, though much of his rather brittle 
yet benevolent personality always 'registers/ With the 
intuition of the born showman he grasped from the begin- 
ning the essentials of the new medium intimacy, sim- 
plicity, and naturalness and its informality, which is very 
different from literary style. 

He is, of course, a marvel of vitality. At eighty-one his 
rich, compact voice is as steady and vigorous as in middle 
age, and his exceptionally clear diction, with its shade of 
Irish, has just the tempo and inflection to give it buoyancy 
and point. The arresting picture of the lanky, quixotic 
figure of the white-bearded youth with the jaunty step and 
the devil-may-care look is so vividly before you that tele- 
vision seems superfluous. 1 


Practically all of Shaw's broadcasts, ever since I managed 
to break the ice, have been transmitted to America. Untold 

1 The first "curtain speech" in television drama was made by Bernard Shaw in 
July, 1937, when, after a televised version of How He Lied to Her Husband, he ap- 
peared on the B.B.C. television screen to say: 'You might not suppose it from my 
veteran appearance, but the truth is that I am the author of that ridiculous little 
play you have just heard.' 

Cjet Shaw on ^Anything! 63 

millions have heard the most famous literary genius of our 
time, who had also become one of the must effective as well 
as provocative broadcasters in the world. But the famous 
'boobs' talk is the only one, thus far, that was addressed 
to America alone. No offers of money ever tempted him : he 
had to be convinced, not only that he had something to say, 
but that it needed saying at the time. Simply 'lecturing* 
America never attracted him as a sport and he has the ut- 
most contempt for the horde of more or less educated 
Englishmen who are ' telling America ' year after year. 

On the other hand, no trouble was too great for him when 
it came to accommodating a friend. Once I discovered that 
a talk that he was booked to make in a B.B.C. series had 
been recorded in advance, because the date fell on the eve 
of one of his long cruises. It would have meant cancelling 
the American transmission, at the end of a series which 
both American networks had taken almost solely for the 
sake of the talk by G. B. S. We were in danger of playing 
Hamlet without the Prince. 

I told Shaw that American broadcasting chains couldn't 
use recordings because of the existing laws. 'What do you 
care about laws, anyway?' he chuckled. 'How about pro- 
hibition when you had it?' But a few minutes later he 
agreed, not only to come to London on a Sunday night, but 
to walk up five flights of stairs in a dormant office building 
to make his talk for American listeners all over again. 
He was almost indignant at the suggestion of getting the 
elevator started for his sake. For a man nearing eighty this 
was pretty generous, considering that there was no financial 
or other consideration of any kind. 

Those who say that Shaw is 'out for money' or 'out for 
publicity' should think again. 

Early in 1933 Shaw traversed the United States on a trip 
around the world, and contrary to all expectations, agreed to 
stop in New York. He had blustered again and again that 
he wouldn't go to America because he didn't want to be 
'mobbed' by his admirers. But somebody collared him, and 
he allowed himself to be 'starred' at the Metropolitan Opera 
House, whence his speech was to be broadcast on a National 
network throughout the United States. 

64 Hello ^America! 

So here he was, facing the ' boobs,' three thousand of them, 
and most of them seem to have decided that, in Queen 
Victoria's phrase, they were not amused. The late Clarence 
Day, crippled and bedridden for years, who managed by an 
incredible effort to crawl into a dress suit and get himself 
transported to the Opera House for the purpose of 'seeing 
Shaw make a fool of himself,' said he was not disappointed. 
Most of the other members of the fashionable audience, 
however, were probably because this time Shaw did not 
call them names. 

The 'getting' of Shaw was not only my outstanding suc- 
cess to date, but one of the great experiences of an exciting 
career. When he had broadcast, the last of the available 
intellectual Big Game in the British Isles had been bagged. 
My eyes began to drift to wider fields. 



ON THE first of January, 1931, Benito Mussolini made 
his first and only broadcast in English. Having taken 
daily lessons for months with an English lady resident in 
Rome, he was persuaded that he had mastered the language 
sufficiently to impress the waiting millions in America and 
could project the great message of Fascism to the New World 
direct from its fountainhead. 

Sometime previous to this, a series of articles from the 
Duce's own hand had been commissioned by the Hearst 
newspapers to appear serially throughout the United States. 
It was a fat contract, and even measured by the sensational 
Hearst standards, the cost must have been terrific. So, in 
order to launch it with the requisite eclat, Hearst had arranged 
for the radio talk to America. This had required the inten- 
sive study of a language not hitherto in the great man's 
verbal arsenal. The optimism of his tutors was exaggerated, 
for the message, though carefully prepared and edited in 
idiomatic English, was probably understood better by 
Italo-Americans than Americans. By arrangement with 
Hearst it was broadcast by short wave from Rome and 
rebroadcast in the United States by the National Broad- 
casting Company's network. The plans were kept secret al- 
most until the very day, in order to prevent the rival Colum- 
bia chain from ' horning in.' When Columbia heard about it, 
frantic efforts were made in Washington to get permission to 
'relay,' but it was too late. Sitting in London, busily occu- 
pied in preparing to * scoop' the Opposition in other fields, 

66 Hello ^America! 

I suddenly found myself Scooped' instead. It was an awful 
blow. The polite ambassador and his minions in the London 
Embassy were sympathetic, but even their eleventh-hour 
intercession didn't do the trick. In my innocence I was 
determined that this sort of thing shouldn't happen again, 
but I realized that my virtual monopoly on broadcasts from 
Europe was at an end. 

A few days later I was tipped that the Vatican's short- 
wave radio station was nearing completion and that some- 
thing even more sensational might happen. Officially I was 
still only the London representative of the Columbia net- 
work, but as there was no other representative in Europe it 
soon became clear that my playground was the entire Euro- 
pean continent. So I put ' European Director' on my letter- 
head and hoped for the best. 


Ostensibly the projected Vatican station was for tele- 
graphic and possibly telephonic communication. The 
historic Lateran Treaty with the Italian Government 
Mussolini's greatest master-stroke of statesmanship had 
been signed two years before, and for the first time in sixty 
years the Vatican enjoyed a temporal, that is, political, 
existence. The Pope was no longer the 'prisoner of the 
Vatican,' and on February 12, 1929, had signified his new 
status by emerging to give the traditional blessing, Urbi 
et Orbi> from the balcony of St. Peter's in the presence of a 
great multitude. 

The newly won 'sovereignty' of the Vatican State had 
been asserted by various visible signs. A Vatican coinage 
had been minted; Vatican postage stamps had been issued, 
to be sold by a tiny post office near the Vatican entrance; 
a showy new government building with an imposing Renais- 
sance fagade was nearing completion; and a Vatican court 
of justice set up for the benefit of four hundred and fifty 

Tutting the Tope on the *Air 67 

Vatican citizens. Moreover, a railroad siding had been con- 
structed, leading by means of a tunnel through a spur of 
Vatican Hill to a small and rather pretentious-looking 
station. But no trains had ever run over it and the great 
portals shutting the tunnel on the Vatican side had not yet 
swung wide, although a royal train presented by Mussolini's 
Government stood ready to take the Holy Father and his 
retinue wherever they wanted to go. The world stood open 
to Pius XI. 

All this had been done with the financial co-operation of 
the Italian Government under the treaty's provisions; now, 
with the same financial aid, the Vatican radio station was 
being built on the summit of the hill, and connected by 
telephone lines to the Palace, so that the Pontiff might 
communicate, directly and independently of any Italian or 
other ' foreign* aid, with his Nuncios throughout the world. 

But the amount payable by the Italian State under this 
head had to be supplemented. What was wanted was not 
only a very modern and powerful station, such as the su- 
preme pontiff should command, but a marble building and 
the most sumptuous accessories. The railroad might be 
just a symbol of sovereignty, but a radio station opened up 
practical possibilities. It was to be built by the Marconi 
Company under the personal supervision of Senator Marconi 

Senator Marconi, rated throughout the world as the 
leading inventor of wireless communication, had been raised 
to the rank of Marchese by the King of Italy, and although 
not a Fascist by inclination, had become one of the chief 
ornaments of the Fascist State, an elder statesman and 
president of the Italian Academy. But he was also a devout 
Catholic and a confidant of the Pope. His marriage with his 
Irish wife, the Honorable Beatrice O'Brien, had been an- 
nulled by the Sacred Rota in 1927 and he was now married 
to a beautiful young noblewoman, the Countess Maria 
Cristina Bezzi-Scala, member of an old family of papal 
aristocracy. He was reputed to be very wealthy. His cup of 
happiness, presumably, was full. Most of his time, when he 
was not engaged in business in London, was spent in his 

68 Hello ^America! 

sumptuous apartment on the Via Condotti in Rome or on 
his luxurious yacht Elettra, conducting experiments. 

The difference between the available funds and the actual 
cost of the proposed Vatican station was, it is said, contrib- 
uted in part by donations from the Faithful (chiefly in 
America), and in part as a homage to the Holy Father by 
the generous Marchese himself. It was to be the last word 
in scientific perfection and efficiency. A neat and handsome 
little building, with the pontifical arms carved over the door, 
was to contain the machinery and the office of the director, 
Father Gianfranceschi, Jesuit savant and head of the Papal 
Academy of Sciences (housed in an idyllic pavilion which is 
said to have been a retreat for certain privileged ladies in 
days when popes were more worldly but less science-minded 
than now). 

What use would be made of the new station? It would 
certainly not be as passively ornamental as the railroad 
station below. Great secrecy was preserved as to its mechan- 
ical details and characteristics. It could telegraph to any- 
where, certainly; but it also had a speech panel and a duplex 
arrangement for two-way conversations with distant points. 
What about broadcasting? No one had even dared to sug- 
gest that the Holy Father himself would engage in anything 
so mundane as broadcasting, although the possibility of 
reaching the whole of the Christian world from the centre 
of the Catholic Faith was a fascinating prospect. 

But fools rush in where clerics fear to tread. And we Ameri- 
cans have the imagination of fools. Busy with the problems 
of Austria and the League of Nations, I was oblivious to 
what was going on in Rome, when a cable from New York 
ordered me to go there and 'get' the Pope to broadcast to 
America! Had he signified any intention to broadcast at 
all? I asked. No, but he might. I was staggered by the very 

Tutting the Tope on the *Air 69 


From Vienna, where Wilhelm Miklas, once a school- 
teacher, new president of the Austrian Republic, had to be 
introduced to American listeners, I went to Turin, the head- 
quarters of Italian broadcasting, to take counsel with the 
radio chiefs. The Pope to broadcast? Ludicrous! You can 
take it from us, on the inside, that he will not. So off I went 
to my next assignment, the meeting of the League Council 
in Geneva. German minorities in Poland were to be dis- 
cussed, and other inflammable subjects. Doctor Curtius, 
Germany's liberal foreign minister, was going to address a 
tirade to American listeners, but at the last moment, scared 
by Nazi demonstrations, he had ' walked out/ In a half- 
hour conversation with him I got the first inkling of that 
rising storm in Germany which two years later was to sweep 
Hitler into power. 

The Pope and his short-wave station were far from my 
mind as I fussed and fumed around the Hotel Metropole, 
the cheerless headquarters of the German delegation. Fur- 
ther inquiries had confirmed me in the belief that a papal 
broadcast was music of the far distant future, and in my 
pocket was a cable ready to be sent to New York, recommend- 
ing the cancellation of my trip to Rome, which would be a 
wasteful wild-goose chase. 

In the lobby of the hotel were listless groups of secretaries, 
journalists, and hangers-on. Suddenly I saw an old friend, 
Karl von Wiegand, veteran Hearst correspondent, who said 
he had just come from of all places Rome. Somebody 
mentioned radio. 

'You know I arranged that Mussolini broadcast for 
Hearst. And only yesterday I left Prince X down there, who's 
going to get us the Pope/ 

'Great man, Hearst. He stops at nothing/ I said, mentally 
crumpling up my cablegram. 'Have you had dinner? Come 
along to the Bavaria!' 

In that crowded and smoky gastronomic hang-out, whose 

70 Hello ^America! 

walls are covered with fantastic caricatures of the political 
and journalistic Big Shots of Geneva, we talked of the good 
old revolutionary days in Berlin, when the Wilhelmstrasse 
bristled with barbed wire, and street battles were our diver- 
sions between strangely concocted libations in the Adlon 
Bar. Before midnight I left Geneva to make connections 
with the Rome Express, in my pocket a nice note from Wie- 
gand introducing an old colleague to Prince X at the Grand 

The Prince was one of those tall willowy Italians of the 
north, whom you see either at fashionable hotel bars or 
driving a flashy Bugatti to a rendezvous, those ' younger sons 
of younger sons' who live by their wits, and whose chief 
assets are elegant manners, aristocratic ' contacts ' and a way 
with the ladies. This particular Prince was, I was told, the 
nephew of a Cardinal, high in the councils of the Vatican. 
At the moment he was a Hearst correspondent in Rome. His 
English was as elegant as his person and there was usually an 
athletic-looking Swiss a trooper of the famous Papal 
Guard in his room. Having just bowed out General 
Nobile, that ill-starred explorer who had been thrown to the 
lions for being an honest man but a poor 'hero' for the young 
Fascist State, the Prince turned to me with that easy assur- 
ance which gets you into places and over problems at a 

Sure, he was getting the Pope to broadcast February 
12 was the probable date. His uncle was a Cardinal, Mar- 
coni one of his pals. And Hearst was his boss. His interest in 
broadcasting was platonic, and I doubt whether he knew 
anything about the bitter rivalry of broadcasting companies 
in America. Nevertheless, discretion was the better part of 
valor and I decided to try and supplement my information 

Tutting the Tope on the *Air 71 


The newspapers knew as good as nothing. The other (non- 
Hearst) American correspondents were aware of the Vatican's 
broadcasting, but thought of it only in terms of communica- 
tions. For Vatican news they relied almost exclusively on 
two sources, the Osservatore Romano, the official organ which 
usually conceals as much as it reveals, and a certain Mon- 
signore who ran an unofficial one-man press service for the 
benefit of foreign correspondents, tolerated but not endorsed 
by the authorities. 

The comings and goings of this dignitary a swarthy and 
well-fed cleric who shaved on Sundays and feast-days, and 
seemed to live day and night in the same soutane, was one of 
the social oddities of Rome. He would be seen daily in and 
about the Vatican, where the tiny square of purple in the 
opening of his collar-band enforced obsequious respect from 
all attendants, courtesies from the Vatican police and 
military salutes from the medieval Swiss Guards. At night 
he could be observed in the Sala della Stampa working on 
'copy,' or at the telegraph office filing messages with great 
assiduity like any ordinary journalist. In off times and 
after hours he would join a convivial group of laymen in one 
of those restaurants that enjoy the reputation of a superior 
cuisine. (They say in Rome that a good rule to follow when 
in doubt about a restaurant is to see whether any clerics are 
among the clients. If there are just priests, the food is good; 
if there's a Monsignore, the food is excellent.) 

But no matter how late he might be on his professional 
rounds, mornings at seven would find the Monsignore saying 
Mass in his little church somewhere beyond the seven hills of 
Rome. And an hour or so later one might have an appoint- 
ment to meet him outside the bronze doors of St. Peter's. Nor 
would he neglect his meditations; punctual to the dot, one 
could see his broad-brimmed clerical felt hat and his flowing 
cassock approaching through the majestically sweeping 
colonnades that curve around the Plaza in front of St. Peter's, 

72. Hello ^America! 

breviary in hand, his lips moving with great rapidity through 
the last of the rubrics, so perfectly timed that the last Amen 
would melt into his cheery 'Bon giorno!' or 'Bonjour!' as the 
case might be for with the exception of English the 
Monsignore knew a language or two. 

I have a notion that he knew more English than he ad- 
mitted, too, but while his clients struggled through Italian or 
French, their hesitations gave him time to think. 

In the difficult task of serving more masters than one the 
Monsignore performed miracles. Not a foreign correspond- 
ent in Rome would admit that this ubiquitous priest was on 
his payroll; yet all profited from his services in a particular 
way: everybody got all the news, but yet it wasn't quite the 
same news, and everyone had, or thought he had, something 
exclusive in fact no one doubted that he, and he alone, en- 
joyed the Monsignore's confidence to an exceptional degree. 

Despite his prodigious and ubiquitous labors the Monsig- 
nore was always reachable by telephone. If he wasn't home, 
his housekeeper was, and an hour or so later he would ring 
back from somewhere in or about Rome. And his voice was 
always reassuring; if there was no news in sight, one felt that 
it was just around the corner. 

So it was with the rumor about the Big Broadcast. The 
Monsignore never denied it, never confirmed it. But in the 
long days of waiting, of secrecy, of sinister hearsay, it was a 
comfort to hear the soft, courteous, authoritative voice tell- 
ing what could be and what could not be, but if the news 
should break, it would 'break right' for you. 


Before I met the Monsignore, things looked black indeed. 
Against the claims of our Opposition, especially recom- 
mended by the Apostolic Delegate in Washington as well as 
an American Cardinal, I was to have the friendly offices of a 
lesser American prelate who was said to enjoy the special 

Tutting the Tope on the *Air 73 

confidence of the Pope, and who was supposed to be some- 
where on his way to Rome. Perhaps he was already there? 
I inquired at the headquarters of his Sacred Order no 
news. I cabled my office in New York: 'When does Father 

W arrive and where will he stay?' and waited for a 


While I was waiting I thought I'd take my first look at the 
Vatican. As I stood all alone in that vast, rectangular inner 
court, stretched to the full height of my five-foot-three, I 
looked up at the lofty walls of Pope Nicholas' fifteenth- 
century Palace of the Thousand Halls, rising canyon-like on 
either side of me, and the towering Appartamento Borgia 
straight ahead. I looked at the myriad windows, imagined 
the countless rooms and miles of corridors behind them, and 
I wondered wondered just where in this awe-inspiring 
maze might be the Pope in solitary majesty; wondered, too, 
whether the whole idea of his broadcasting and my ' arrang- 
ing' it for America's upstart radio chain wasn't too fantastic 
for thoughts, let alone words. 

When I returned to my hotel, feeling rather blue, the 

answer to my cable awaited me: 'Father W unsailing. 

Contact old gentleman direct.' ('Old gentleman' was code 
for Pope!) 

I looked again and it was like looking down an empty well 
for a pin. My mind went back to the Vatican, to the tower- 
ing canyon, the thousand windows, the Papal guards, the 
closed doors of bronze that I had seen. ' Contact old gentle- 
man direct!' 

Well, there was still lots of time. It was near the end of 
January and the broadcast, if it happened, wouldn't happen 
before February 12. The date certainly sounded right, for 
not only was it the date of the Pope's enthronement, but in 
America it was a legal holiday, when millions could listen in 
and would. Through diligent search I got to know a 
nephew of a brother-in-law of the Pope's chamberlain's 
brother or some relationship even more remote, yet in 
Italy not too remote for a little personal favor for the sake of 
family ties. Within a week or so I had an appointment with 
the Chamberlain in his red plush and gold office in the 

74 Hello ^America! 

Vatican, which proved 1 cordial but useless except for the offer 
of attendance at an audience, where one might kneel and 
receive the papal blessing from afar. Also I got an invitation 
to hear His Holiness say Mass in the Sistine Chapel. 

It was a festive occasion. I donned my white tie and 
' tails/ according to regulations, though it was morning, gave 
up hat and coat to silk-stockinged court flunkies, and sat on a 
back bench in that apotheosis of all interiors, staring at 
Michelangelo's ceiling, listening to the ethereal harmonies of 
Palestrina, breathing the incense-drenched atmosphere 
while the mitred Pius XI on his portable throne was carried 
shoulder-high through the central aisle, attended by the 
Noble Guards, a gigantic fan held over him like an Eastern 
potentate, attired in the rich, effulgent splendor of ' Christ's 
Vicar on Earth/ The spectators applauded with their hands 
according to tradition as the august figure approached. 
Two nuns next to me had opera-glasses, and as the ceremony 
proceeded they stood unabashed on the bench to peer through 
them over the heads of those in front. 

The Byzantine pomp of the ceremony, the scintillating 
splendor of the altar, the age-old canticles intoned by the 
Pope's tenuous, quivering voice, the genuflexions of cardinals 
and bishops before the enthroned pontiff all the accumula- 
tion of the mysticism of two thousand years, calculated to 
impress man with the humility of his being these things 
were overpowering in their effect. And as these impressions 
crowded in upon me, my mind suddenly reverted to that 
classic cablegram: * Contact old gentleman direct!' 

My next approach was to the Papal Secretary of State, 
and there was officially referred to Father Gianfranceschi, 
Jesuit scientist, president of the Papal Academy and 
Vatican radio chief the key-man in the story, as I shall 

Meantime things had begun to happen. In the night of 
January 30-31, speech tests from the Vatican station had 
been heard in New York and were acknowledged, worse luck, 
by our * hated rivals,' the N.B.C.; and Senator Marconi was 
received in private audience by the Pope to report on the 
experiment. Special apparatus was to be installed in the 

Tutting the Tope on the <Air 75 

Pope's study for telephone communications with the over- 
seas Nuncios. The American correspondents reported to 
their papers that the station probably would be functioning 
by February 12. Relying on the Monsignore's confidential 
bulletins they said that a papal address would be read by a 
cardinal, but seeing me around they added that at the last 
minute the Pope himself might decide to speak. Nobody be- 
lieved it; everybody around the Vatican stoutly denied the 
possibility of anything so unprecedented. 

Then the power house, already functioning for tests, was 
to be formally 'opened* on February 6, the Pope's birthday, 
by the Pontiff. The Osservatore Romano, in an obscurely 
placed paragraph printed a statement that the station itself 
would be opened on February 12 con gran solennita. That, 
said the nephew of the brother-in-law of the Chamberlain's 
brother, means the r personal presence of the Pope. It was 
high time to see Father Gianfranceschi. 

The upper regions of the Vatican City, where the station 
was located, had been closed for weeks. Every bend in the 
road was guarded by Vatican police. Now, armed with a 
direct reference from the Papal Government, the Mon- 
signore and I took a motor car; as he approached a police- 
man, he flashed his little purple square, the badge of clerical 
nobility, whispered a few magic words, and we were waved 
on. Up and up, along the medieval ramparts over which the 
radio towers and antennae incongruously protruded toward 
the sky, over newly made roads, we rolled up to the tiny 
marble temple that housed the greatest of miracles that even 
the Vatican had seen. 

Father Gianfranceschi, an ascetic, slender intellectual in 
cassock and skull-cap, received us. In his hand was an 
English book of very recent date Eddington's Science and 
the Unseen World. His manner had a delightful blend of 
fatherliness, urbanity, and simple charm. The childish 
delight which he took in his great machine, his tubes and 
rectifiers and indicators, broke through his reticence and we 
soon became quite good friends. The idea that thousands of 
the Faithful might be excluded from listening to the Vatican 
unless both networks were given permission to rebroadcast 

j6 Hello ^America! 

the opening ceremony, gradually softened his partiality. 
Armed with a document which not only certified Columbia's 
privilege to rebroadcast the 'entire ceremony/ but which 
also gave me free passage to the radio station, I became 
a daily visitor. Day by day, bit by bit, the details of that 
ceremony emerged in conversations with the suave padre, 
from the famous silver trumpets to herald the arrival 
of the Pope down to the proceedings of the Papal Academy, 
where Marconi was to be installed and decorated by the 
Holy Father himself. 

Father Gianfranceschi, I found, visited the Pope every 
day, perfecting the elaborate program, instructing him in 
the use of the gold-mounted microphone, assisting in the 
articulation of his historic Message to the World. I was, in 
fact, as close to 'contacting old gentleman direct* as any lay 
mortal could hope to be. Without the slightest desire to sup- 
plant the busy Monsignore, I had, for the time being, become 
a valuable news source to the most excited group of news- 
paper correspondents I had ever seen, since they had been 
kept on tenter-hooks by the mystery-mongers about the 
Vatican for a fortnight or more. 

The reason for this elaborate secrecy over an innocent 
matter, though of world-wide interest, I was never able to 
detect. Young Prince X, down at the Grand Hotel, who was 
never seen in the sacred precincts at all, seemed to be the 
only one who all along 'knew/ Could it be that this epoch- 
making event in the history of the Church was being nursed 
as a scoop for one all-powerful newspaper magnate in New 
York? Not until four days before the great broadcast did the 
Monsignore release a communique to the effect that ' Senator 
Marconi and Father Gianfranceschi in audience with the 
Pope this evening have fixed the inauguration of the radio 
station for February 12.' The date and other details cor- 
responded absolutely with what the Hearst man had con- 
fided to me three weeks before! 

My only fear now, despite the Secretary of State, despite 
Father Gianfranceschi, despite Marconi (who at last, in the 
solitude of his Roman drawing-room, had avowed a benevo- 
lent neutrality), was that somehow we should be prevented 

Tutting the Tope on the JLir 77 

in New York from 'picking up' HVJ. 1 An invisible struggle 
seemed to be going on behind the scenes to keep me from 
muscling in on this all-important event. If I succeeded, 
Columbia's claim to equality of status as one of the major 
chains would be established; if we failed the blow to our 
prestige was too terrible to contemplate. Nowhere else in the 
world did a similar situation exist, for nowhere else was com- 
petition, if it existed, allowed to affect a broadcast of univer- 
sal public interest. 

Almost every night New York rang me on the telephone, 
only recently extended to Rome. Our own reception facilities 
were inadequate; the R.C.A. said there was no available 
'channel/ Every day Gaston Matthieu, Marconi's construc- 
tion chief, and one of the ablest engineers in Europe, would 
give me advice, which, without understanding it, I would 
shout into the receiver for our engineers in New York. 
' Did I really have permission to pick up the transmission ? ' 
they would ask. 'Yes, in writing/ Again and again I had to 
reassure the administrative heads. Meantime, as the only 
American radio man on the spot, I fed them advance in- 
formation on every detail of the transmission, and they 
passed it on to the press, getting due credit, while the 
Opposition was keeping close counsel, for fear of a 'leak* to 
us. Thus the public came to regard me, an outsider, as a 
leading instigator, the power behind the papal microphone! 

Meantime, the fear that something would go wrong had 
reduced me to a bundle of ragged nerves. I came to suspect 
everybody of duplicity. With a bitter taste in my mouth, I 
eyed the Monsignore suspiciously through cheerless meals at 
the San Carlo or the Taverna Reale. 


At last the great day arrived. Shortly after four in the 
afternoon a procession of motor cars wound its way up the 

1 HVJ, call-letters of the Vatican station: H for Holy, V for Vatican, J for Jesus. 

7 8 Hello ^America! 

snaking motor road toward the summit of Vatican Hill. 
Swiss Guards, in medieval doublet and hose lining part of 
the way, stood at attention, holding tall halberds rigidly at 
their side, Palatine Guards and Noble Guards saluted with 
their swords. The white-and-yellow papal flag fluttered at 
the masts of Palace and public buildings. It was the proud- 
est day of the reborn Papal State. 

When the papal car approached the station, everybody, 
including the Chief of Police in white gloves, knelt. The 
aged, white-garbed skull-capped Pius XI, peering through the 
thick lenses of his spectacles, alighted, made his way between 
cardinals and Palace dignitaries into the little marble build- 
ing. The silver trumpets sounded; the ceremony had begun. 
Inside, the proud inventor of radio led him between shining 
rows of switching panels, generators and transmitting gear, 
to a switch which the Pope himself was to throw, formally 
starting the station's function. With Marconi and Father 
Gianfranceschi standing near him, Pius XI, sitting at 
draped desk in a tiny room, began his message with an 
alloquy 'to all creation/ speaking in a clear firm voice: 

'Qui arcano Dei consilio succedimus loco Prindpis Aposto- 
lorum . . .' 

It was the first time in history that a pope's voice was 
heard by the world at large. Beyond the borders of the 
Vatican, in every country of Europe, in all of the five conti- 
nents, a multitudinous audience, the greatest that had ever 
listened to a single man, listened in devout silence to words 
which only very few could understand. In many places 
through the far-flung Christian world men and women knelt 
in streets and public places, listening with feelings of bliss and 
awe. A maze of radio circuits carried the words around the 

Outside the station, on Vatican Hill, silence reigned. In 
Rome, in the crowded city, people went about their daily 
concerns. Few listened. 'We are so near the centre of 
religion/ they said, 'we don't worry much about the Pope/ I 
myself listened, for two hours, at a friend's house, but found 
it hard to concentrate. Did our stations get it? Or had three 
weeks' work and worry been in vain? 

,-, , Wide World Photo 

bor the first time in history, a Pope's voice was heard by the 

world at large 
Behind His Holiness is Senator Marconi 

Tutting the Tope on the *Air 79 

At dinner, an hour after it was all over, a telegram was 
handed to me. It was from New York: 



The job was done; for the first time in three weeks I was 
able to relax. But not for long; for now I was expected to 
cover not merely England, but all of Europe single-handed, 
and to land every dictator, statesman, and 'stuffed shirt' 
making front-page headlines in the American press. 



THE first of the Dictators was close at hand. At the end 
of the long street where I had passed those uneasy 
weeks lay the Piazza Venezia, a beautiful Renaissance square, 
ruined by the brutally gleaming white marble of a monstrous 
monument to King Victor Emanuel I, and on its western side 
was the Venetian Palace, where Mussolini received his guests. 
From here he had made his first and only broadcast, in 
English, for the benefit of American listeners, as related in 
the preceding chapter. In it he had assured America that the 
modern world was unthinkable without it a statement 
which did not surprise the average citizen of our optimistic 
land. Without America's aid, he said, the war could not 
have been won; and without America's aid prosperity could 
not be regained. This last, in the depression year of 1931, 
was rather less than might have been expected from a 
political miracle man. A pledge that Italy would never take 
the initiative in another war (four years before Abyssinia) 
and a firm advocacy of deflation (two years before the New 
Deal) were, to say the least, not prophetic utterances. It 
seemed to me that another speech to offset the effect of the 
first one would be a good thing. 

So I began to haunt the Palazzo Chigi the Italian 
Foreign Office to try and argue the satellites into persuad- 
ing the Duce to talk. Day after day I sat in the sumptuous 
Renaissance anteroom, admired the gilded carved-wood 
ceiling, the opulent tapestries and hangings esthetic de- 
lights that comported very imperfectly with some of the 

"Dictators and 'Demagogues 81 

unkempt loungers waiting at all times to see some Segretario 
or Commendatore on business that might be important but 
surely was never urgent. 

Hours of waiting are nothing to the Italian, who is born to 
accept red tape, as he accepts sun and rain. In fact, the 
comparatively low unemployment figures of Italy might by 
some humorist be ascribed to the fact that one half of the 
population is always engaged in waiting for the other half. 
Fascism may have done away with delays on the railroads, 
but it has not altered the leisurely ways of Italian bureau- 
crats nor their delightful operatic demeanor. One could 
not say that they didn't take my suggestions seriously, to 
judge from the agitated arguments that would ensue among 

Everything, of course, depended on Mussolini, that man of 
iron will and quick, inflexible decisions; the pleasure of // 
Duce was law hence nobody could promise or prognosti- 
cate anything. Obviously the short cut would be to see the 
Duce himself. It took a long time, but at last with the 
help of my friend Tom Morgan, of the United Press I got 
my summons to the Palazzo Venezia, where the great man 
would receive me at six-fifteen one afternoon. I was told to 
be on time because the periods were exactly calculated, like 
an American radio schedule, on a quarter-hour basis. I ar- 
rived punctually and waited in a tiny antechamber, where 
another hopeful was already parked. He went in after the 
man before him came out; about ten minutes after I, accord- 
ing to schedule, should have gone in. I waited altogether 
about thirty minutes, which was anyhow a clear 100 per cent 
gain over the Palazzo Chigi, down the street. 

The usual routine, which has been frequently described by 
others, now followed. The smiling flunky opens the door; 
you perceive the Duce at the other end of the enormously 
long, dusky room, sitting behind a massive, cornered desk, 
dressed in morning coat, gray trousers, and the conventional 
wing collar and gray tie a stocky man of rather less than 
medium height, of swarthy complexion and earnest, almost 
weary mien. He rises, greets you with outstretched arm, and 
holds it till you are near enough to shake hands; then you sit 
down, opposite him at the desk. 

Hello ^America! 

After apologizing for not speaking Italian, I asked what he 
would prefer English, German, or French. 

'Let us speak . . . French German English!' he hes- 
itatingly announced; so I was as wise as before and con- 
tinued in English, with the usual compliments about Rome. 
And then, I found, I was through. He took the initiative 
and began to interview me, instead of the other way round. 

1 \Yhat is the situation in England?' he began. 

Well, it was so-so. In 1932 there was the economic crisis 
and a lot of unemployed. Had he known slang he might 
have answered, 'You're telling me!' But apparently we had 
already crossed the English Channel, for he continued: 

' What's the situation in France : ' 

I decided that this was just a technique, so we wouldn't 
have to talk about the weather or the business in hand. 

'What's the situation in Germany? Who is going to win 
the election? Von Epp?' 

Here was a funny thing! Hindenburg was a candidate to 
succeed himself as President of the Reich; Hi tier was his 
most likely opponent yet Mussolini apparently hadn't 
thought of him. Von Epp was the general who ' recaptured ' 
Munich from the Communists in 1919. He might be a 
candidate, but his chances were remote. 

I gave the most obvious answer: 'Hindenburg.' It re- 
quired no clairvoyance. 

Down went the Duce's eyeballs in that peculiarly alarming 
manner, which might indicate anything from anger to sur- 
prise, As one might raise one's eyebrows. It's a special tic of 
Mussolini's; just as some people are double-jointed and 
others can wriggle their ears. 1 Well, I took refuge in some 
funny remark or other: he didn't even smile. But dictators 
do smile, so I suspected that my English wasn't as easily 
understood as I thought. After saying that Hindenburg was 
just a figurehead and too old to take any real part in things, I 
repeated it in French and he quickly took it up. 
V he said. ' Trop cieux.' 

1 NIv dry t oi tytW m^ t4iaf t4iL< rwrosff p^^yKtiK fKfi is usually identified us one 
of the symptoms of Graves's disease (V. Graefe's sign), which causes the lids to lag 
behind the aum-mutt of the eyeball when looking down. Graves's disease is an 
i of the thyroid gland. 

"Dictators and Demagogues 83 

There followed some more conversation about Germany 
and then a little lull. Perceiving that my time was nearly up, 
I said we hoped he would broadcast to America on Wash- 
ington's centenary, or whenever. 

1 You think that would have a good effect : ' he asked, still 
speaking French. I assured him it would, and enlarged on 
the great influence of radio in America. He said he would 
think it over. As I got up, he came out from behind his desk 
and slipped his arm into mine as we began to stroll toward the 
door. It was all very leisurely and pleasant, and pretty soon 
I was out, thinking I had a new pal. But only for a few 
minutes. My last glimpse of him was strolling along the 
short wall near the door, and I figured out that by squaring 
the room he would reach his desk just after the flunky had 
helped me on with my coat. Sure enough, as I started to go, 
the buzzer rang for Number Next. 

I never heard any more about that broadcast; according to 
the minions at the Palazzo Chigi he was still thinking it over 
the following year. In fact, America didn't hear Mussolini 
again till October, 1934, when the Italian elections had once 
more confirmed the power of the Fascist regime and the 
long-awaited Corporate State was about to be constituted. 
His speech, cheered to the echo by thousands of Italian 
throats, which we were privileged to relay throughout the 
United States, gave Americans a real taste of high-powered 
demagogic oratory. But after a while it palled. The excite- 
ment was provided by the background mob rather than the 
voice itself, though phrase after phrase of thunderous 
rhetoric rolled out upon the air. 


To judge from the Duce's remarks one got the impression 
that he either had never heard of Hi tier in February, 
1932! or else did not consider him a serious factor in the 
situation. Or did he purposely avoid mention of his 'imita- 

84 Hello ^America! 

tor,' who was destined to become his noble ally in the years to 
come? It is true that at the time he was not a candidate: he 
was not even a German citizen. Yet within a month this 
* imitator' had polled over eleven million votes against the 
eighteen and a half million cast for Hindenburg, the idol of 
the German nation. 

As soon as this happened I flew to Berlin to see Ernst 
Hanfstaengl, known from Munich to Harvard University as 
'Putzi,' to get a line on this political prodigy. 'Putzi,' then a 
member of the innermost councils of the Nazi party and a 
close friend of the Fiihrer, was in high feather. He was a 
grotesquely tall, broad-shouldered, lusty fellow with the 
nose and chin of 'Mr. Punch/ Waving his windmill arms in 
the direction of the Wilhelmstrasse, he predicted that ' those 
people over there' were practically on the rocks. Now, after 
reading the inside history of those harrowing months in 
John Wheeler-Bennett's admirable book (Wooden Titan, 
1936), I realize how nearly right he was, but there was nothing 
in the manner of this clownish partisan that inspired con- 
fidence in his judgment. 

Nor did my first look at Hitler himself, sitting in the lobby 
of the Kaiserhof, imbibing a soft drink in the company of 
some inconspicuous middle-class ladies, create any impres- 
sion but that of sordid disillusionment. Life for him, at the 
moment, was at low ebb. The storm troops and the S.S. 
were still disbanded; the intrigues of Papen and Schleicher 
which were to bring Briining to fall were still too nebulous to 
permit any definite hopes; old man Hindenburg was still 
contemptuous of the 'Bohemian sergeant' who dreamed of 
becoming master of the Third Reich. An ashen-faced, tired, 
depressed, altogether unprepossessing person, he sat hunched 
down in his chair, unrecognized and unimportant to the 
fashionable tea-drinking Berliners around him. 

So this was the orator of the fiery tongue, who played on 
the wounded sensibilities of the German people, ringing all 
the changes from tearful lament to prophetic malediction 
the modern Savonarola who had thrown millions under his 
mystical spell ! A broadcast from him as a sample of 
sheer rabble-rousing should turn out to be a sensation 

"Dictators and "Demagogues 85 

even in America. But Nazi broadcasts in Germany were 
banned; Hitler himself had been kept from the microphone 
by the quaking authorities, who possibly might have done 
better by letting him talk . . . 

This meant, too, that no technical facilities would be 
available for a transmission of his voice from Germany to a 
foreign country, that is, America. But Putzi, proud of his 
American connections, promised to sound the Fiihrer any- 
way. I instructed my Berlin representative to 'follow 
through/ A few days later, in London, I had a telegram to 
say that 'Brillig' (our code- word for Hitler) was willing to 
speak from somewhere outside Germany Salzburg, Bale, 
The Hague, or Copenhagen before April I, and that his 
subject would be 'The German Struggle for Liberty/ in 
comparison with the American Fight for Independence. 
And the price would be fifteen hundred dollars in other 
words, one thousand dollars per minute pretty steep 
for a German harangue that couldn't be understood by 
most of our listeners. The widows and orphans of the Nazi 
martyrs, it seemed, had to be provided for by every possible 
means. But the deal didn't come off. The Fiihrer's going to 
a foreign country appeared to present insuperable difficulties. 

Suddenly, in the summer, the German authorities had a 
change of heart: they announced that the Nazi leaders would 
be permitted to broadcast, the same as other candidates, 
during the ensuing campaign for the Reichstag elections. 
I wired New York for new instructions, but the answer was 
'Unwant Hitler any price/ Within five weeks Hitler went 
over the top as the leader of the largest party in Germany, 
winning 230 Reichstag seats a world sensation. Exactly 
six months later after a temporary setback he was 
Chancellor of the Reich. 

Hitler's stock as a radio attraction went skyrocketing in 
America. On February i the N.B.C., by virtue of its 
preferential agreement with the German broadcasting 
authorities, carried part of Hitler's victory speech, relayed by 
short wave to America. Listening to it at my loud-speaker in 
London, hearing the deafening acclamations of his followers 
a continuous crescendo of Hells, brass bands, and roars 

86 Hello ^America! 

from a hundred thousand throats for hours and hours, I 
realized what was happening; an avalanche of pent-up mass 
emotion, a tidal wave of political hysteria that would sweep 
everything before it and crush anything that got in its way. 
A real revolution, someone said to me. No no genuine 
revolution ever sounded like this; this 'people's victory* was 
of ' superior ' origin, staged by a master hand. Not in vain 
had Max Reinhardt developed his art in Germany! 

'Fourteen years have passed/ Hitler began, 'since the day 
when, blinded by promises from within and without, the 
German people lost honor and freedom . . .' His voice, 
starting pianissimo, rose and swelled, dropped to liquid 
whisper, dilated to a hysterical shout climax after climax, 
interminably. And each time the roar of applause and Heils 
rose to meet him, giving him respite to recover his emotions 
and resume the next cajoling strain. The sheer sound of it 
riled one up; words no longer mattered: this was the Medicine 
Man, healing souls and inflaming passions with the same 

Again and again the German ether vibrated to this strain. 
A new election campaign was on the fifth within twelve 
months and the Voice that stirred the millions rose into 
the air again, against the same background of obedient 
throats shouting themselves hoarse. To appreciate the man, 
to judge him dispassionately, it would be necessary to 
separate him from this deceptive coulisse. What, really, did 
he have to say? What was his appeal to cold reason? 

I returned to Putzi, to see if we couldn't get a broadcast 
talk by Hitler putting his case to the world not shouting, 
but talking. Hitler and a microphone, in the quiet of a small 
room; nothing else. Putzi reopened negotiations. He was 
now an important man, resplendent in his 'S.A.' officer's 
uniform. His room in the Kaiserhof was part of a general 
headquarters; the whole hotel was alive with storm troopers 
clicking their heels and giving the Nazi salute. Blustering as 
ever, towering about two feet above me, he took to calling 
me 'the giant,' laughing loudly at his own joke and putting 
his arm about my shoulders. 

A grand piano stood in the corner, and on it Putzi proudly 

"Dictators and "Demagogues 87 

played me the latest Hitler march, composed by himself. 
A junior brown shirt came in to call for a phonograph record 
of it for someone. Putzi signed it proudly, putting the date 
and adding in the style of the Italian Fascists ' Year I ' 
(of the new era!). Before our negotiations were over he was 
living with Goring in the Speaker's Palace, situated behind 
the Reichstag and connected with it by the famous under- 
ground passage which was to figure in the Reichstag fire trial 
later on. 

Soon everything was 'arranged': Hitler was due to fly to 
Cologne, and there from the seclusion of the Brown House 
he would speak to America, his talk to be translated on 
the spot. But in the last stages this plan, too, collapsed: 
other and more important things intervened. The election 
campaign became virulent, then vicious; men were being 
killed in the streets; sinister plots were being 'discovered'; 
within a couple of weeks the Reichstag was gutted by flames. 

So we waited until the end of the campaign, when Hitler, 
once again surrounded by the faithful mob, fired the last 
barrage of the campaign in Berlin's Sporthalle, cheered and 
supported by the usual roaring cheers. We rebroadcast an 
hour of it then cut. Hitler has not made a 'genuine' 
broadcast without a crowd to this day. 

One of the many stories they tell in Germany about the 
Nazi triumvirate is the one about Hitler in the dentist's 
chair. He was to have a tooth extracted, and the anesthetist 
asked him to count slowly, so he would know when the 
patient was 'under.' Hitler counted 'one, two, three,' and 
so forth, his voice getting slower and fainter as he went on. 
At thirteen it was all but inaudible and the dentist got his 
forceps ready. Then suddenly came fourteen and the 
voice swelled into full strength. 'Fourteen years have 
passed,' it shouted, and Hitler, instead of getting his tooth 
pulled, was making his usual harangue. That little story illus- 
trates why the speeches of Hitler were not often rebroadcast 
abroad. To the finely attuned Nazi ear he may be saying 
something new; to the infidel he is making the same speech. 
To the foreigner, perceiving with his intelligence and not 
with his emotions, it conveys nothing that he does not al- 
ready know. 

Hello ^America! 


In a sort of way, the American listener's clamor for 
dictators had now been stilled. But strictly speaking I had 
failed had failed to lure any of them to the lonely micro- 
phone, to tell what was on their minds. Why was this? 
Why were demagogues, usually so anxious to unbosom them- 
selves to a crowd, reluctant to speak their minds in the quiet 
of a studio? 

'The microphone/ says Bernard Shaw, 'is the most won- 
derful tell-tale in the world. If you speak insincerely to a 
political audience, the more insincere you are, the more 
hopelessly you are away from all the facts of life, the more 
they cheer you and the more they are delighted. But if you 
try that on the microphone it gives you away instantly. 
You hear the political ranter you hear that his platitudes 
mean nothing and that he does not believe them/ 

Can it be that the dictators, unlike most other politicians, 
have found out the microphone? Can it be that, since 
reasonable persuasion is not their forte, they eschew the 
dialectic or conversational style? In any case, the attitude of 
Europe's strong men showed a singular unanimity in this 
respect. Mussolini's first and only attempt would seem to 
have been an error of judgment; he has not repeated it in 
seven years. Joseph Stalin, sitting in his Kremlin, was as 
mike-shy as the rest. I never saw him, but I wrote him most 
seductive letters, and even went to Moscow to persuade his 
entourage. The argument that Hitler and Mussolini had, 
after all, been heard abroad caused a disdainful raising of 
eyebrows and holding of noses. Stalin does not allow even 
his public speeches to be broadcast except on rare occasions, 
and no foreign radio organization has yet been permitted to 
rebroadcast his voice. 

The assumption that the radio has favored the growth of 
dictatorships does not, indeed, hold water, whatever effect it 
may have in keeping these men in power once they are there. 
The three great totalitarian systems of contemporary Europe 

Wide World Photo 

The excitement of a demagogue's speech is provided by the 

background mob. Dictators are not anxious to speak their 

lines in the quiet of a studio 

"Dictators and ^Demagogues 

grew to power without the aid of the radio; those of Russia 
and Italy in fact antedated the organization of radio as an 
effective instrument; in Germany the Nazis were deprived of 
its use until they were within a few months of reaching 
power, and even then they refused to use it, until Hitler was 
actually head of the government. 

This is, in itself, no proof that the radio might not have 
helped the dictators to fasten their hold upon the nations 
they desired to rule. But we have at least one instance of an 
attempt to establish a Fascist or quasi-Fascist dictatorship 
by argument over the air, and that one attempt turned into 
a dismal failure. I refer to the sad case of Gaston Dou- 
mergue, one-time President, and more recently would-be 
dictator, of France. 


After the Stavisky scandal, the bloody Paris riots, and the 
parliamentary stalemate of 1934, conditions in France were, 
as never before, ripe for a Fascist coup in fact, conditions 
for violent change were present in almost classic perfection. 
If only the opportunity could have been seized! Colonel de 
la Roque, leader of the Croix de Feu, failed to come up to 
scratch; Tardieu, who afterward admitted that as Premier he 
contributed government money to the war chest of the move- 
ment, 1 lacked the personal popularity to be anything more 
than the power behind the throne. But 'Papa' Doumergue, 
a veteran politician who enjoyed the prestige of the elder 
statesman, and the dignity of an ex-President of the Republic 
was induced to come out of his retirement to 'save the 
nation' from civil war. Papa Doumergue enjoyed the 
affection of the majority of the people of France; sick and 
tired of political trickery and corruption, Frenchmen put 
their faith in this venerable People's Friend. Though he had 
no black-shirt or brown-shirt army behind him, the armies of 

1 See the Paris dispatch in the New York Times , October 27, 1937. 

cp Hello ^America! 

the Croix de Feu and all the other militant leagues were 
ready to march to his support. And he had, as the first would- 
be dictator in European history, the radio at his command. 
He made the most of it. 

Over the heads of his cabinet, from the security of his 
executive office, he appealed to the nation in a series of 
fatherly talks designed to rally the people behind the man 
who had sacrificed for their benefit the well-earned repose of 
old age. Then, in his fifth discourse, he not only attacked 
the socialists and communists according to the established 
Fascist pattern, but proposed certain constitutional changes 
which would strengthen the executive power, and allow him 
to crush the Red Ogre and establish order and progress 
along the familiar lines of national regeneration, regimenta- 
tion, and economic reform. 1 

At first the people listened sympathetically; then they 
became suspicious; finally they got furious. The honeyed 
words and the silken voice lost their appeal. And in the end 
they rallied to the Opposition and drove Doumergue from 
office. The Left, instead of becoming bitter, used the weapon 
of ridicule. 'When is Monsieur Doumergue speaking?' asks 
a radio purchaser pictured as in a newspaper cartoon. 'On 
Wednesday night/ 'Then be sure to deliver my set on 
Thursday morning/ 

Pretty soon the whole nation laughed; the dictatorship 
menace was over perhaps for good. Had things turned 
otherwise, the whole course of European history would have 
been changed: as it is, France remains the bulwark of 
Western Democracy in the world. 

Are we, then, to suppose that the radio is proof against 
Fascist arguments unless they are supported by the shouts of 
moron multitudes? I believe, with Bernard Shaw, that sin- 
cerity is the ultimate test. The microphone automatically 
eliminates most of the histrionic appeal, it vitiates the 
demagogue's animal magnetism, strips oratory of its trap- 
pings, and reduces it to the bare bones of reason and fact. 

1 The Doumergue scheme has been widely represented as an attempt to save 
democracy instead of wrecking it. The true facts are ably set forth in Alexander 
Werth's book, The Destiny of France, London, 1937. 

^Dictators and ^Demagogues 

Moreover, it allows the listener to think, to reflect without 
being swept off his feet by the wave of crowd hysteria and 
the terrifying compulsion of the mob. 


Thus the old-fashioned demagogue, the political rabble- 
rouser of pre-war days, whose technique is that of the 
stump, has lost much of his power in political life. 'For some 
mysterious reason/ in the words of that shrewd observer, 
General Charles H. Dawes, ' that personal magnetism which 
sometimes deadens the intellectual perception of the crowd 
in the physical presence of the orator is not transmitted over 
the wireless/ And this applies, not only to dictators and 
would-be dictators, but to demagogues of all political 

A case in point is David Lloyd George. This wizard of the 
silver tongue, whose oratory had carried the British nation 
through the hardships of the war and the Coalition Govern- 
ment over the top in the notorious khaki election of 1919, 
was and still is a comparative stranger to the micro- 
phone. I tried for years to get Lloyd George to make a radio 
talk to America; his reluctance was finally explained to me 
by people close to him, who said that he 'hates the wireless/ 
The reason is not far to seek. Unsurrounded by his admirers, 
with nothing but his voice to convey the workings of his 
agile mind, Lloyd George's eloquence simply does not come 
off. I have watched him addressing his supporters, have 
watched him speak in Parliament; age has not dimmed the 
glamour of his rhetoric, nor dulled the edge of his invective. 
Endowed with all the social graces and the superior gifts of 
showmanship, this dynamic white-haired Welshman, whether 
right or wrong, still gets the crowd. But on the ether, all his 
charm seems to evaporate: of all the speeches that woo the 
coy citizen sitting at his loud-speaker at election times, 
Lloyd George's are the dullest and least effective, because the 

Hello ^America! 

histrionics the winning smile, the half-closed eye, the 
clenched fist, and the hands toying with the golden spectacles 
are simply of no use. 

'The microphone is the most tell-tale instrument in the 



MY FIRST two years of broadcasting from Europe had 
convinced me that radio was an instrument of 
democracy. Despite the fact that populations were being 
regimented and intimidated by the broadcast blusterings of 
dictators and their henchmen, I could not help feeling that in 
the end the appeal to reason would be stronger than the 
assertion of force. Throughout history it has been easier to 
propagate ideas than to suppress them, and just as the 
printing press had become a mighty instrument of liberation, 
so enlightenment by radio would prove irresistible in the end. 

Although the leaders of the European democracies had less 
attraction even for America as radio headliners, I was 
determined that America should take its measure of 
dictators and democrats alike, for no instrument so lends 
conviction to sincerity, none so easily exposes fraud. The 
cavalcade of Europe's statesmen, some of whom would one 
day loom to heroic stature in the history books, could, I 
thought, be given a new dimension in terms of sound. The 
words they would speak, however fragmentary, might help 
to heighten our sense of reality, help the ordinary man to 
form some sort of judgment of their worth. 

The great democratic statesman of the early thirties was 
Ramsay MacDonald. Until Franklin Roosevelt loomed on 
the international horizon, he was the hope of the liberal 
world and the idol of those who believed in peace. No 
British statesman had so often filled the air with fine phrases; 
none had more often been listened to and with more sym- 

94 Hello ^America! 

pathy beyond the British Isles. No other politician of his 
generation had more of what is vulgarly known as the gift of 
gab. His liquid, beguiling voice, his soft Scottish burr, his 
heart-warming appeals to 'my frrriends,' and his pious 
homilies on the moral progress of the world were consumed 
as eagerly as were, later on, the fireside chats of the American 
President. Indeed, they had much of the same qualities 
the homely phrase, the happy metaphor, the apt hyperbole, 
and the clinching peroration. 

I first met Ramsay MacDonald before he became Prime 
Minister a second time, at a luncheon of the American cor- 
respondents in London, where he spoke, simply and con- 
fidentially, without cant, confidently looking forward to his 
resumption of power and a great constructive work of re- 
form. 'Revolution/ he said, 'as a method of progress, is out 
of date. We of the Labour Party don't believe in revolution 
because we have a better way/ It sounded convincing, 
especially from a man who had not yet taken on that fatal 
tinge of respectability and self-righteousness which were to 
make him one of the most despised of men among the British 
working-class later on. He still looked the old left-wing 
campaigner, too; his handsome face, his graying and still 
flowing locks, and his deep-set, honest eyes were the outer 
marks of the idealist. 


When MacDonald first spoke to America in 1930 the 
one-time revolutionary had taken on the statesman's air; he 
fancied himself as settling the affairs of the world, and his 
personal vanity made him put the cart before the horse. 
But his attachment to Anglo-American friendship was 
passionately sincere, and when he spoke to an American 
radio audience he meant what he said. One such occasion 
was when Ambassador Robert Worth Bingham presented, on 
behalf of the American Council of Foreign Relations, a set of 

. : : . : 

B. B. C. 

MacDonald liked broadcasting it was a modern thing and 
he fancied himself as a modern 

B. B. c. 

In Stanley Baldwin's broadcast, America got a sample of 
quiet British oratory at its best 

"Democrats and Stuffed Shirts 95 

American state papers to Chatham House once the home 
of Pitt, now the headquarters of the Royal Institute for 
Foreign Affairs. MacDonald presided, and made a graceful if 
platitudinous speech. I announced him and gave a running 
commentary of the proceedings. Afterward, in the private re- 
ception room, I thanked him on behalf of American listeners. 
Seeing Stephen King-Hall, the famous children's broadcaster, 
with me he quickly took his cue from the phrase, known to all 
English listeners, with which King-Hall always concluded his 
talks: 'Now be good, but not so frightfully good that some- 
one will come along and say "What's he been up to now?" 

'Well/ said MacDonald, 'was I good, but not too fright- 
fully good?' drawing a courteous laugh from the Am- 
bassador and ourselves. 

By the time the Economic Conference of 1934 was on, 
MacDonald had become so absorbed in the higher statesman- 
ship that he was estranged from many of his old colleagues. 
Clad in immaculately fitting morning coat, his gray hair 
slicked and his moustache clipped in fashionable style, he 
looked every inch the royal butler as he conducted old King 
George to the speaker's dais. His sonorous phrases had be- 
come a distressing mixture of truth and humbug, optimism 
and eyewash, feeling and sentimentality. He was the 
sanctimonious preacher on the hustings, a schoolteacher 
scolding others for their lack of a knowledge he had only 
just imperfectly acquired. Standing at the death-bed of the 
Conference that most humiliating of all pompous inter- 
national failures he had the nerve to call it (in words that 
were broadcast in Europe and America) ' a fulfilling prophecy 
of hope, a whisper of the imperturbable approach of world 
co-operation an embodiment of the lilt "It's coming 
for a' that." 1 It was no wonder that his followers were 
getting fed up. 

So long as MacDonald had the truth on his side, so long 
as he was in Opposition, his phrases had the power of an 
evangel; when he became an apologist for principles contrary 
to his own, his words merely smote the empty air. It was his 
vanity that forced him into loneliness, that made him proof 
against disillusionment and robbed him of sincerity; and it 

Hello ^America! 

was this lack of sincerity that stripped his broadcasting of its 

'We have just crossed the dividing line of a new year/ he 
broadcast in mid-depression, ' and once again we look behind 
and before. Memory stands on one side of us and hope on 
the other. We . . . have been going through a hard time/ 

The prose was worthy of Dickens, but the sentiments had 
a disagreeably Pecksniffian taste. Like Pecksniff, Mac- 
Donald was convinced of his own virtue; he spoke his hand- 
some phrases so often that he believed what he said. His 
Conservative colleagues let him talk so long as he talked 
for the National Government. And the less he counted in 
that government, the more seriously he took his job. 

One evening, after he had been suffering from nervous 
eye-strain, I had to go to 10, Downing Street and introduce 
him in an American broadcast. His physician, the eminent 
Lord Horder, came into the room, and leaned over him as we 
were passing the time in small talk. 'You must take care of 
yourself/ he whispered to the Prime Minister, ' and get some 
sleep/ MacDonald straightened up and said, melodramati- 
cally: 'Duty, my dear Horder. Remember duty!' This was 
probably not just for my benefit; it was sheer natural show- 
manship and an important part of the audience was 

MacDonald liked broadcasting, as he liked flying it 
was a modern thing, and he fancied himself as a modern. 
'Knowledge is making us giants/ he said in one of his talks, 
and he liked to think himself a giant. But long before he 
gave up flying and broadcasting the country had given him 
up. He still came to the microphone to talk for the very 
things he had once fought against. His voice was still rich 
and vibrant, his rhetoric intact. But the power of con- 
viction had gone out of it: if he fooled anybody at all, it was 
because he fooled himself. Listening to him over the air, one 
could imagine him posturing, bracing himself against an un- 
comprehending, unfeeling world. A democrat who had gone 
wrong and the microphone was revealing the sad truth. 

Yet, when all is said that must be said, it should not be 
forgotten that in his early days Ramsay MacDonald was the 

"Democrats and Stuffed Shirts 97 

hero he later thought himself to be, and gave an example to 
his generation which few others had the courage to give. 
He alone among all his colleagues in Parliament opposed the 
World War; he alone faced the shout of ' Traitor !' and did 
not cringe. He went to prison and worse still he was 
expelled from his Scottish golf club, which no blandishments 
induced him to rejoin. 


Even while MacDonald was still in office, Stanley Baldwin 
was a power in the land. He represented the great conserva- 
tive capitalist class which under one name or another 
has been responsible for British leadership for generations; 
yet he, rather than MacDonald, was to become the symbol 
of British middle-class democracy. For democracy, in 
England, is an attitude rather than a political creed, a 
method rather than an 'ideology/ And whatever others 
might think of Baldwin's democracy, he sincerely believed 
himself to be a democrat; it was this that made him one of 
the most effective broadcasters of his time. 

When, in 1930, Stanley Baldwin was chosen by the Bro- 
therhood Movement to make an address on democracy, I 
seized the opportunity to rebroadcast it to America, and 
America got a sample of quiet British oratory at its best. 
'Democracy/ he said, 'is still an aspiration and not a fact. . . . 
It is still "an untravelled world, whose margin fades for ever 
and for ever as we move." What we have achieved is a 
democratic framework of government, which is not the same 
thing as a democratic society. We have perfected the machin- 
ery of popular government It is terribly easy for those in 

power to confuse justice with the interest of the strong, but 
oppression of the few by the many is just as ugly as its 

Baldwin's strength lay in two things: first, in the picture 
he conveyed of himself as a sound, average Englishman, a 

98 Hello ^America! 

man whose mind worked slowly and who made mistakes, 
but who had the courage to do what he thought was right; 
and second, in a style so apparently simple, so improvisa- 
tional that it always seemed to be the plainest kind of truth. 
Yet, while not rhetorical, his command of language gave 
evidence of a distinctly poetic turn of mind. Only half in 
jest, his brother-in-law and cousin, Rudyard Kipling, used 
to say that Stanley was the poet of the family. Whether he 
spoke of moral abstractions or political realities, he always 
seemed to be taking the hearer into his confidence. Even in 
election speeches he rarely resorted to attack; he gave an 
account of himself or his mental processes and let it go at 

With these quiet methods he talked himself to the top. 
From complete political obscurity this member of the 
widely disliked industrial employer class, whose party 
colleagues questioned his abilities for leadership, who 
achieved office, as it were, by default, who made expensive 
mistakes and meekly admitted them became the political 
prodigy of post-war England, rising to the highest office in 
the land and keeping himself there, supported by the free 
votes of the majority of the people including millions of 
workmen at a time when unemployment and industrial 
distress were at their worst. Here is a record that no dictator 
has equalled to date. 

Shortly after the death of King George V and the fiasco of 
the Hoare-Laval dicker concerning Abyssinia, Baldwin's 
political fortunes were thought to be ebbing and there was 
rumor of serious revolt against him in his own party's ranks. 
The best he could hope for, it seemed, was to hang on till 
after the coronation of Edward VIII, when he and Mrs. 
Baldwin would play a transcendent role and he could retire 
in an orgy of festive celebration, with his political prestige 
unimpaired. A story went the rounds in 1936 according to 
which Baldwin had been speaking in a rather too fatherly 
way to King Edward about his private concerns. 'See here, 
Mr. Baldwin/ the King is supposed to have interrupted him, 
'if you don't stop meddling with my personal affairs, I won't 

come to your d coronation' (the important word being 

the 'your'). 

T)emocrats and Stuffed Shirts 

In the light of subsequent events then unsuspected by 
anyone that story, however apocryphal, takes on a 
semblance of probability. To everybody's surprise, Edward 
made good the threat and, as if to spite him, Baldwin rose 
to as yet undreamed-of heights as the Warwick of his time. 
For whatever one might think of Baldwin the politician 
before the abdication, whatever sympathy one might feel for 
the luckless Royal Duke, the story of Baldwin's manage- 
ment of the historic crisis in British monarchy, told in the 
familiar, pedestrian, simple yet moving Baldwin manner, 
was a stupendous exhibition of political strategy and 

Baldwin passed into the somnolent shadows of the House 
of Lords with a sort of halo about his homely head, having 
triumphed where more brilliant men had failed. Many a 
time had his voice been heard in America, by means of the 
transatlantic ether waves usually at official occasions, 
Lord Mayor's banquets and the like. His mastery of radio 
vindicated its claim as an instrument of democracy. 


Since more Americans are personally interested in little 
Ireland than all the rest of the British Isles, I kept a watch- 
ful eye on ' Saorstat Eierann,' otherwise the Irish Free State, 
from the start. William Cosgrave, still President early in 
1931, made his first St. Patrick's Day address to America 
on my invitation, but there was a fly in the ointment, as will 
be related anon. When less than a year later Eamon de 
Valera won his first national election I already had my foot 
in the door. On March 4, 1932, he spoke to America on 
'The Future of Ireland' exclusively under our auspices, 
announcing his intention to abolish immediately the hated 
oath of allegiance to the British sovereign and his intention 
to repudiate the land annuities paid by Ireland to the 
British treasury under the treaty of 1921. Both promises he 

zoo Hello ^America! 

soon made good. It is a measure of De Valera's determina- 
tion and of the faith of his adherents that even with the 
weapons of an economic war the British Government has 
been unable to make him retreat a single inch. 

That American broadcast was the first broadcast 'Dev' 
ever made. He came to O'Connell Street the scene of the 
barricade fights during the Irish Rebellion which had landed 
him in a British jail with the sentence of death hanging over 
him and walked into the studio as though he were going 
to buy a stamp. Nobody recognized him, nor did he care a 
hoot. The director of the broadcasting station, a Cosgrave 
job-holder who could sing Irish folksongs in a mellifluous 
baritone and sign his name in Gaelic, thought he better 
come around personally, Sunday or no Sunday, 'because, 
after all, he [De Valera] will soon be my boss/ 'Dev' 
faced an incredibly primitive-looking microphone contrap- 
tion and meekly took his instructions from this comic char- 

His delivery, in his faint and attractive brogue, was quiet 
and matter of fact, almost casual, seeking to convince by the 
strength of argument alone. And the gist of the argument 
was economics. An old mathematics teacher, Dev is never 
at a loss for figures, and he produces them with an almost 
childlike faith that they will be understood. He was fully 
aware of the value of talking to America the country 
which supplied him with the sinews of war when he and his 
friends were on the run but he refused to make any 
emotional appeal, just as he refused to abandon that 'obliga- 
tory* opening paragraph in laboriously perfected Gaelic, 
no matter how many thousands of listeners, with American 
impatience, might tune out. That was characteristic of the 
whole man. 

When I first met De Valera he was still only the leader of 
Fianna Fail a party which the British fondly regarded as 
virtually outlawed and all but on the rocks. When I saw him 
in his office in the cheerless, abandoned-looking headquarters 
on lower Abbey Street, he seemed just an agitator in a 
hopeless cause. A few months later, as President of the 
Irish Free State, neither his manner nor his appearance had 

"Democrats and Stuffed Shirts 101 

changed the rumpled homespun clothes and the old 
slouch hat might have been the same he wore when he was 
sniping at British soldiers in 1916. But there was no doubt 
about the essential nobility and the fanatical ardor of the 
man. His almost emaciated, weather-beaten, hawklike 
face, the myopic yet piercing eyes, the deep lines descending 
from his nostrils to his chin, suggested a terrible determina- 
tion. Though he seemed to lack all the accepted graces, 
including a sense of humor, his friendly and naturally demo- 
cratic manner made me like him at once. 

Eamon de Valera would hardly agree with Ramsay Mac- 
Donald about the obsolescence of revolution. For he owes 
everything he accomplished to revolutionary action, to 
desperate and sanguinary revolt. It was he, foolhardy 
enough to ambush a crack British regiment with a handful 
of volunteers marching on the capitol from Kingstown quay, 
to raise the banner of revolt and raise it again after each 
escape from jail, and to abandon the safe haven of America to 
walk into the very jaws of death; it was this 'crazy Irishman* 
who finally won for an unwilling and lethargic people the 
realization of a nationalist's dream a merely 'poetic* 
liberty if you like, and economic quasi-isolation (in a modern 
interdependent world!). 

But Dev is a man upheld by an inflexible faith. Today he 
believes in the union of all Ireland in the same fanatical way 
that before the war he believed in the quasi-independence of 
the country that has now come to pass. Ireland and demo- 
cracy are the synthesis of his religion. He keeps on and on, 
if not by miles then by inches. Conscious of his debt to 
America, he has not missed a single St. Patrick's Day since 
he first came into office, to give an account by radio to 
friends across the water. And he has always had something 
to report. When Edward VIII abdicated he, alone among 
the Dominion governments, completely ignored both the 
abdication and the coronation of George VI, thus loosening 
yet another tie with the Empire. Constitutional purists 
maintain that legally Edward VIII, and not George VI, is 
still King of Ireland. What matters to the Irish is that 
foreign diplomats are received at Dublin Castle not by a 

IO2. Hello ^America! 

royal governor, but by Eamon de Valera, the once out- 
lawed rebel, himself. 1 


My observation of De Valera made me turn to another 
democratic nationalist one who might be regarded as his 
prototype, namely Thomas Garrigue Masaryk, liberator and 
President of Czechoslovakia, then nearing his seventy-third 
year. Both Masaryk and De Valera had derived inspiration 
as well as material support from the United States. 'Dev' 
was born in New York; Masaryk married an American wo- 
man and proudly adopted her family's as his middle name. 
Both men had been rebels and fugitives in America; Masaryk 
indeed had planned the liberation of Czechoslovakia in the 
shadow of the White House and declared his country's 
independence from Philadelphia's Independence Hall. 

Masaryk, the son of a serf, blacksmith in his youth, pro- 
fessor of philosophy in early manhood, patriot-conspirator 
in middle age, political leader at sixty, father of his country 
at seventy, a fighter for moral, intellectual, and cultural 
ideals all his life, was now living in the Hracin, once the 
palace of the ancient Bohemian kings, elevated high over the 
Moldau River at Prague. No head of state was ever more 
beloved by a nation than this man, who never sacrificed his 
faith in democracy, and even as president lived the simple 
ascetic life of the scholar and political philosopher, preaching 
tolerance and peace. 

His son Jan, raised in America, speaking more unmistak- 
able 'American' than some American diplomats, is Czecho- 

1 In September, 1932, this 'rebel* was representing the Irish Free State, as an 
independent national entity, on the Council of the League of Nations in Geneva. 
In a program which we organized he spoke to America together with Sir Eric 
Drummond (later Lord Perth), the British Secretary-General of the League. And 
in January 1938, in another broadcast speech relayed to America by my successor, 
he announced the new Constitution creating the State of 'Eire' (Ireland), sever- 
ing its last legal bonds between it and Great Britain. 

'Democrats and Stuffed Shirts 103 

slovakian Minister to the Court of St. James, a lively young 
man who readily fell in with my plan to have his father 
address the American people on Washington's birthday 
one pater -patrice about another. Strange to say, my New 
York office saw nothing very significant in that, so I actu- 
ally had to persuade them to accept one of the greatest 
political figures of our time. 

Here was a democratic statesman who had successfully 
used the radio, if not in the establishment of a regime, then 
in its consolidation. Without compulsion his people listened 
to him, to his quiet words, preaching not hatred but recon- 
ciliation, with the federation of European states as his ulti- 
mate ideal. And lo! the people rallied to him more closely 
than the peoples have rallied round the ' strong men ' preach- 
ing self-assertion and force. 

Sitting in the study of his castle on Washington's birthday 
of 1932, Masaryk addressed an American audience for the 
first time since the stormy days of the war. 'Washington 
has taught us/ he said, 'that the fortunate outcome of a 
revolution depends on the moral and political preparation 
of the revolutionists/ The aim in this case was a federated 
European continent. And he added significantly: 'Having 
recovered our liberty we again follow the example of Wash- 
ington in that we must no longer feel the old antagonism and 
anger, which originated in the suppression of our liberty.' 

I had the great privilege of introducing President Masaryk 
in this, the only direct American broadcast he ever made 
and that by a curious fluke. I had invited the American 
Minister to do the honors, from the studio, and my own 
little speech was to precede that of the diplomat. But the 
excited engineers (this after all was an event in Czecho- 
slovak radio history) switched on the wrong signal, so the 
President's voice burst forth while the astonished Minister 
stared blankly into his script. 

Another comic feature of this broadcast was barely 
avoided, for the Czech orchestra rehearsing the Star- 
Spangled Banner for the occasion made it sound like a 
Slavic dance. With more valor than discretion I accepted 
the proffered baton and 'rehearsed' one of the best radio 

104 Hello ^America! 

orchestras in the world thus making my first and last 
appearance as a conductor on this planet. 

Masaryk was a handsome old man, white-bearded, with 
remnants of white wisps on the top of his head, like late 
autumn leaves clinging to an oak. His life and character 
were pictured in his face spirituality, probity, kindliness, 
steadfastness, hard work. ' Defeat is only a reason for exer- 
tion/ he quoted Washington as saying, and exertion had 
been his life-long lot. There was nothing that betrayed his 
lowly origin; I should have said he was an aristocrat, had I 
not known. And he lacked the assertiveness of the self- 
made man, because he had the humility of the truly great. 

When Masaryk died, not only did the nation mourn for 
him, but millions not only in Czechoslovakia had a 
sense of personal loss. With him something rare vanished 
from the European soil, something that may never appear 


The greatest handicap in this business of presenting 
Europe's leaders to America was the problem of language. 
While radio had improved the premises for Anglo-American 
solidarity, the polyglotism of the European continent stood 
in the way of a more widely international program of radio 
talks. Now that I was to project not merely Britain but all 
of Europe to the American audience, I was disappointed to 
find how few of the outstanding men on the Continent com- 
manded English to any serviceable degree. Americans are 
impatient listeners: a foreign language or even a difficult 
foreign accent is enough to reduce an audience to a mere 
fraction of itself. 

The aged Masaryk and his successor, Eduard Benes, were 
exceptions. They were the type of 'good Europeans* whose 
equipment was in line with their aims. Others, like Aristide 
Briand the ace of good Europeans and one of the most 

Radio journale a Prague 

Masaryk was a democratic statesman who used the radio, not 
in the establishment of a regime, but in its consolidation 

Merriman, Dublin 

De Valera faced an incredibly primitive-looking microphone 

"Democrats and Stuffed Shirts 105 

appealing speakers I had ever heard were, simply because 
of their lack of English, debarred from appealing to the un- 
seen audience across the sea. Indeed, Frenchmen, being 
more insular than the reputedly insular English,^ rarely 
speak anything but French. Among those who did, Edouard 
Herriot was the nearest to Briand in human qualities, be- 
sides being a sincere democrat. Few people in America knew 
what he stood for, not many had even heard of him, yet the 
fact of his being the undisputed leader of the great French 
democratic party (the * Radicals')? the virtually perpetual 
mayor of France's greatest industrial city, Lyon, and twice 
Prime Minister of France, were certainly enough to make 
him a world figure. To American newspaper readers and 
radio listeners he became 'news' when, after the Hoover 
Moratorium of 1932, he negotiated the Lausanne Treaty, 
which ended reparations, on behalf of France. I took my 
cue and caught him while he was still in the heat of his task; 
he agreed to do his first English broadcast, and thus in the 
hearing of America stretch out the hand of conciliation and 
friendship to Germany. 

'We have shut the door in the face of passion/ said this 
corpulent incarnation of the well-intentioned French provin- 
cial. 'We, the French people, at the present time are pre- 
occupied with our own affairs, but we are very deeply moved 
by the sufferings of the German people. . . . National policies 
have too long been keeping the nations apart; we must give 
them a new aim that of coming together, both materially 
and spiritually. The new spirit must prevail/ 

Phrases, you say? But in 1932 it needed courage to say 
these things. France was gripped by the panic of depression, 
and the Lausanne settlement was going to cost the French 
people billions of francs, and to rub out forever the mirage 
of Germany's hidden wealth. It was sensible, rational Her- 
riot who had fought against repudiation of the American 
debt, who first advocated friendship with the new Russia, 
who preached Anglo-French solidarity, disarmament, and 
the strengthening of the League. It was this cultured and 
rather nostalgic politician who in the hate-filled post-war 
atmosphere was able to write a book on the German com- 

106 Hello ^America! 

poser Beethoven. And now, in the fierce hostile light of pub- 
licity, he braved French chauvinist sentiment with words 
of friendship which, a little earlier, might have calmed the 
fierce tempest of nationalism and rapacity that was to seer 
the heart of Europe anew. 

It is the fate of nations that such men are not heard in 
time. No Frenchman had spoken words such as these in the 
presence of German statesmen since the war. Here was good- 
natured, square-headed Herriot with his funny, brushed-up 
crop of graying hair, with the honest, tender eyes of the 
romantic, saying things from his heart, things that Briand 
might have said with more eloquence but not more sincerity, 
to make people forget the harsh and brutal words that had 
been spoken year in year out. But he was too late; after 
six more months Adolf Hitler had been swept into power in 
Germany, and Herriot was unseated by a camarilla of politi- 
cal patrioteers. The next time that French and German 
delegates sat around the green table they had blood in their 
eyes and the old anger in their hearts. 


That was in London, in 1936. Hitler's latest week-end 
surprise, the reoccupation of the Rhineland, had been 
sprung. According to the current British euphemism, the 
Germans had just ' marched in to their own back yard/ and 
Anthony Eden was asking everybody to remain calm. 
(Afterward some of his compatriots said that the French had 
been 'bloody fools' to let the Germans get away with it. 
'If they had mobilized, without our permission, we would 
have come forward with a beautiful compromise proposal. 
Hitler would have had to climb down/ r ) But in France 
people had a sinking feeling in the pit of their stomachs. 
The Rhine was France's first line of defense. Across it the 
old ogre of war had once again shown its face. The Locarno 

1 See Alexander Werth, The Destiny of France, London, 1937. 

"Democrats and Stuffed Skirts 107 

Pact, that 'most gilt-edged of all scraps of paper/ had been 
torn up, and Europe had 'entered a jungle of lawlessness* 
from which there is little prospect of escape. 

The prime minister of France was Pierre-Etienne Flandin. 
A veritable giant of a man, he strode into St. James's Palace 
with a look of determination on his handsome, businesslike 
face, the straight, thin mouth tightly set and barely showing 
under the bristly moustache, his vaulting forehead accentu- 
ated by premature baldness. At forty-seven, Flandin was 
the youngest prime minister in modern French history. 
There was a tense feeling of pessimism as he faced the assem- 
bled statesmen of Europe, a new and comparatively youth- 
ful galaxy that had replaced the old embittered men of 
yesterday: dapper Anthony Eden; Dino Grandi, dark, wary, 
and intransigent; Litvinoff, shrewd and cynical, with the 
face of a Jewish impresario; tall and slender Paul Van Zee- 
land, the youngest of all, of serious ascetic mien, and after 
a tense period of waiting Joachim von Ribbentrop, the 
typical German Junker, brutally aggressive, speaking in 
the tone of the Prussian lieutenant as though not Ger- 
many but the rest of the world were on trial, to be judged 
by German standards of right. 

It was the turning point of post-war history: that delicate 
moment when the scales might tip either way. Herded about 
the open door of the council chamber, veteran journalists 
indulged in flights of fantasy. What if Clemenceau, the 
'Tiger/ were to rise from his grave to defy this hapless 
brood of waverers, once more to invoke the vengeance of 
' victorious ' France? Or again, if a somewhat glorified 
Briand were to speak with the tongues of men and angels, 
stretching out the hand of brotherhood to appease the rising 
devils of hate? But no miracle happened. Flandin, cold, 
legalistic, well-meaning but fearful of public opinion, with 
renowned French logic pleaded only the testimony of the 
bond. It was not good enough. The bankrupt statesmen 
of Europe crept home, hearing only the distant crack of 
the dictator's whip. Sick at heart we sat huddled in the 
Tudor armament chamber, hung with the shields and swords 
of ancient days, which served as antechamber to Queen 

io8 Hello ^America! 

Anne's Room the same room in which exactly five years 
before I had listened, with a catch at the throat, to the oily 
eloquence of Aristide Briand as he presented to Ramsay Mac- 
Donald the gold pen with which the London Naval Treaty 
had been signed . . . 

I had had bad luck with Flandin. Ever since, in 1929, he 
had moved up into that motley political panel from which 
French ministers are chosen to make up the changing fagade 
of French cabinets, he had moved in and out of governments 
in various capacities. Being the only minister with a real 
command of English he had, at the end of 1930, promised to 
explain his government's policy to American listeners. By 
the time the appointed day arrived, the cabinet had fallen 
and the policy had changed, so he was no longer entitled to 
speak. And so it went, time and again: if you want a French 
minister, get him quickly, for you never know how long he 
may last. Flandin held a near-record for brevity as minister 
of commerce six days. 

And now at a crucial moment in France's history he 
was at the top. I got him, in the heat of the crisis, to plead 
France's case at the microphone. It was excellent English: 
cool, dispassionate words that kindled no sympathy for a 
potentially bleeding France. 

4 France might have mobilized,' he said; 'she might have 
taken coercive measures against Germany; she might have 
occupied the Rhineland by force. She thought it her duty 
to abstain from such measures. She preferred to pin her 
faith to the inherent strength of international law and to the 
justice of the League of Nations. . . . She kept calm because 

she was sure of her strength and of her right France does 

not threaten any nation. She wishes peace for all people. 
This peace can be founded only on justice.' 

Justice? 'Justice,' said Masaryk, 'is the arithmetic of 

We had travelled a long way from Lausanne and Herriot's 
sympathy for German suffering, three and a half years ago. 
It was March, 1936. Three months later Italian Volunteers' 
were fighting in Spain; and a year after that women and 
children were being massacred by bombs in Shanghai in 

Democrats and Stuffed Shirts 109 

breach of a solemn treaty signed by nine nations, including 

But there was another new voice raised in London that 
gloomy spring. It was the voice of Paul Van Zeeland, Prime 
Minister of Belgium at thirty-eight. A tall, svelte thorough- 
bred, of calm, scholarly speech. His grave, softly spoken 
words were as profound as they were simple in meaning, and 
a fit answer to Ribbentrop, lecturing the world on the iniq- 
uity of keeping a good nation down. Belgium alone, it is 
true, could answer him with a spotless conscience. On the 
night before Van Zeeland made his moving appeal for Bel- 
gium, he accepted my invitation to speak to the United 
States from a London studio. Hardly raising his voice above 
a whisper, without a trace of meretricious oratory, he con- 
fided the case of war-ravished Belgium to the conscience of 
the world. By profession a banker, Van Zeeland's manner 
was that of a family trustee advising his client about prudent 
investment. Yet his apparently matter-of-fact words were 
the only ones spoken at that last abortive Conference which 
kindled the sympathies of those outside. 

A new political star had risen. A year later Van Zeeland 
began his quiet campaign for economic disarmament, begin- 
ning with trips to London, Paris, and Washington. Soon 
Belgium, as the first Western nation, concluded a bilateral 
non-aggression pact with Germany. The pseudo-fascist 
machination of the Belgian Sexists' caused Van Zeeland's 
resignation from office in 1937, but his disappearance from 
the political scene was more formal than real. He is the sort 
of man of whom Europe stands in need. 

Although this does not pretend to be an account of the 
Rhineland Conference, it seems proper to record that not 
only Flandin and Van Zeeland were invited to put their case 
to America. Through Councillor Dieckhoff, that high- 
minded German diplomat, I asked Ribbentrop to come to 
the microphone, but the invitation was not accepted. It is a 
pity that German statesmen are so reticent when they are 

no Hello ^America! 


Leon Blum, unquestionably one of the outstanding demo- 
cratic leaders of today, does not trust himself to address an 
English-speaking audience in English. It would have been 
interesting, especially to Americans, to hear him tell about 
the French * New Deal/ that impressive set of reforms iden- 
tified with the government of the Popular Front the 
forty-hour week, the paid vacations for workingmen, the 
reform of the Bank of France, the nationalization of arma- 
ment manufactures, the inauguration of large-scale national 
works and other measures against unemployment. The 
parallelism of social progress in the two great North Atlantic 
republics could not fail to strike even those people who are 
not usually given to comparison and analysis. 

When Blum did speak to America in his high-pitched, 
rather feminine voice (for the N.B.C.), it was in French. 
Although the Popular Front Government had not yet taken 
office, he gave a succinct statement of its program and the 
implication of its advent. 'The recent French elections/ he 
said, 'mean three things. They mean, firstly, a victory for 
the republican form of government, of democratic institu- 
tions and of freedom, both civil and personal, over all forms 
of autocracy, oligarchy, and fascism. They mean, secondly, 
the stern resolution to seek a way out of economic depression 
and an alleviation of the ensuing misery of whatever sort, 
along an entirely new line. They mean, finally, the will on 
the part of France to keep the peace of Europe and through- 
out the world, a peace based on international law and the 
respect of contracts, on the effective solidarity of all the 
nations and on general disarmament.' 

There was nothing startlingly new in this program; in 
ordinary circumstances these words might not mean much. 
But it has come to this in Europe that a frank and un- 
conditional avowal of democratic principles, without recourse 
to nationalistic or even patriotic shibboleths is an act of 
courage. France, at any rate, had travelled a long way since 

'Democrats and Stuffed Shirts 1 1 1 

the days of the Stavisky riots, the Fascist leagues, and the 
threatened dictatorship of Doumergue a longer way since 
the bad old days of Poincare and Tardieu. 

Radio had done its share, in France and elsewhere, in 
bringing about this change. Radio, by using the appeal of 
reason, by calming political passions and clarifying the 
issues, by its ability to focus national attention on the real 
problems, had given democracy a new chance. 


But it has not made the air safe for 'stuffed shirts/ Con- 
trary to supposition, invisibility has not helped those who, 
having no ideas of their own, obediently read off what is 
written down for them to say. Here, too, the microphone is 
'the greatest tell-tale in the world/ Unless the speaker has 
thoughts of his own, or has at least made them his own, they 
will not convince anyone over the air. And no mere voice, 
however seductive, has ever won a man's opinion, though it 
may win a lady's heart. 

That is why the radio speeches of high dignitaries are often 
just so much wind. More often than not they are prepared 
by that nameless crew of black-coated officials who, in every 
executive palace and every chancery in the world, pro- 
duce with ant-like industry the substance, if not the spirit, 
of modern diplomacy. I wonder how many people realize, 
when they hear the voice of some ruling politician, some 
celebrity whose name figures in the world's headlines, that 
they are really listening to an obscure bureaucrat, a public 
relations expert, or a grandiloquent hack whose name never 
appears in print. 

Those whose business it is to arrange for the broadcasting 
of speeches by public men often have no means of knowing 
who is the real author. It is not until the great man is in 
the studio that the category of the speech genuine or 
ghosted is revealed, and not always then. Introducing 

in Hello ^America! 

such men, however eminent, as the creators of what they 
are about to say has, to me, always seemed a pious but dis- 
tasteful fraud. 

I remember, for instance, a certain Lord Mayor who had 
been invited to talk about the great city of London to the 
American audience. Conceiving his job to be a bit of touting 
for the tourist trade, he had entrusted the composition to a 
travel catalogue writer, and when he arrived at the studio in 
his traditional horse and carriage he had no idea of what he 
was going to read. 'Won't you do it for me?' he said cyni- 
cally. 'It's all the same.' He read the talk so badly that I 
almost blushed for him. 

Another time the President of a European state, soliciting 
the friendship of the Great American People, read several 
pages of what newspapermen call ' blah ' in the presence of 
the American Minister and several solemn-looking high 
officials, and his English reading showed that he didn't un- 
derstand the meaning of the words. And an ambassador 
whose name is known all over the world came to the studio 
in great state, bedizened with glittering decorations, to read 
with pompous conviction a document on the issues of the 
World Economic Conference. It had been prepared by two 
young men who up to an hour before the broadcast couldn't 
agree on the text, and the ambassador had never seen it 

None of this, of course, is of any use; and radio organiza- 
tions should treat these prefabricated broadcasts as the 
newspapers treat so-called handouts pick out the 'raisins' 
and look for the holes. The time has come, too, for the elim- 
ination of those world-wide engineering stunts by which 
statesmen in a dozen countries repeat, one after the other, 
sublime platitudes about peace collections of phrases 
which lie ready-made in every foreign office, to be arranged 
and rearranged at will. In 1932 this was an impressive nov- 
elty; today it is a bore. 

I have tried, in this chapter, to name only the real men, 
and speak anonymously of the stuffed shirts. There are, 
nevertheless, cases where stuffed-shirt broadcasts have made 
history, as will be seen anon. 



WHEN I first went to Germany as a newspaper cor- 
respondent, four months after the Armistice, a mon- 
strous wooden statue stood, like a sinister reminder of the 
grim years, in the great open space near the Reichstag Build- 
ing in Berlin. It was perhaps fifty feet high, and it repre- 
sented in crude form the hulking figure of Field Marshal von 
Hindenburg, the hero of Tannenberg and the idol of the 
German Army now raised to the status of a Teutonic 
deity in the patriotic mind. All over the statue were rough 
iron nails, which covered it so closely that the huge wooden 
body appeared to be covered with a rough, rusty skin. Each 
one of those thousands of nails had been bought by some 
patriotic citizen of the Fatherland, with money that went to 
prosecute the war. Similar wooden Hindenburgs were to be 
seen in other German cities all over the land, and millions of 
hard-earned nails were driven into them, while the nation 
gritted its teeth. And yet the war was lost. 

In 1925 the real Hindenburg, nearing eighty, had become 
president of the German Republic, risen from the ashes of 
the Kaiser's Reich, and in March, 1932, this doughty octo- 
genarian was to be put up for re-election against a former 
Austrian house-painter who had been an obscure corporal in 
the mighty army under Hindenburg's supreme command. 
That obscure corporal was by 1931 leading a brown- 
shirted army of malcontents which was threatening to boot 
the old Field Marshal out of his palace, where he was filling 
his slowly ebbing years with dreams of the glorious past. 

114 Hello ^America! 

Indeed, many people considered that the old gentleman was 
all but dead, though no one had thought it wise to tell him so. 

Others, however, thought that he was just playing pos- 
sum, and biding his time when he would be as alive as he 
pleased. One thing only was certain: the palace camarilla 
which surrounded him, consisting of certain influential 
Junkers, including General von Schleicher, Doctor Meissner, 
his private secretary of state, and above all his son, Colonel 
Oskar von Hindenburg, kept him in very close seclusion and 
saw to it that his picture of the world outside was just what 
he could see through their eyes. His only watchword was 
Duty; and just now his duty was to sign emergency decree 
after emergency decree, which enabled a harassed govern- 
ment to rule without the interference of parliament. So 
many things were put before him to sign too many for an 
old man to read! But he believed so implicitly in his per- 
sonal advisers that whatever they approved he signed. 

Many humorous tales went the rounds about the pathetic 
old man. According to one of them a certain civil servant 
came for an audience and was kept waiting in the anteroom. 
His sandwiches, spread with sausage meat, reposed ac- 
cording to the German fashion in his portfolio, and as the 
hands of the clock went past the time for his 'little lunch' 
he furtively munched his Butterbrod to sustain him against 
the interview, and smoothed out the sandwich paper care- 
fully on a near-by table. Presently he was called out of the 
room, and when he came back he found that the paper bore 
Hindenburg's signature. The Field Marshal had passed 
through the room in the man's absence and, according to his 
habit, had signed whatever he found lying about. 


On New Year's Eve before his second election this vener- 
able head of state was roused long enough to address the 
German nation and the world by radio. His voice was 

Wooden Idol in "Berlin Woodchopper in T)oorn 115 

still as firm as his signature, and he could be trusted to read 
a speech in the good old soldier's way. Standing erect at a 
microphone in the Chancellor's Palace in the Wilhelmstrasse, 
he addressed to his countrymen 'a few but loyal words, to 
help you bear the distress of the time/ namely by drawing 
belts still tighter than before. It was the annus terribilis of 
Germany, and hunger stood hollow-eyed at millions of doors. 
'Let no one be faint of heart,' the old man said, 'but let each 
of you cherish an unshakable faith in the future of the 
Fatherland. God has many times saved Germany in deepest 
need; He will not forsake us now.' It was a touching appeal, 
and I was glad that the people of the English-speaking world, 
of England and the United States, could hear it. Both 
American networks carried it from coast to coast. 

Midway in this little speech, which must have cost the 
old man a great effort, a curious thing happened, though few 
people outside Germany knew what it meant. A sudden 
break occurred and the words * Achtungl Rotfront!' (Atten- 
tion, Red Front!) were followed by the assertion that 'the 
shadow of the Red Front is over Germany.' 'Let all pro- 
letarians unite,' it went on before anything could be done 
about it, 'against the emergency decrees and the dictator- 
ship!' Whether it was done by communists, with the help 
of a secret radio station (as was claimed), or by wire-tapping 
Nazis somewhere on the inside (every government service 
was swarming with them), it should have been a warning to 
the world that Germany was on the eve of an upheaval. For 
democratic Germany this was, indeed, the beginning of the 

Three months later, it is true, Hindenburg was duly 
elected; but his opponent, Adolf Hitler, polled eleven mil- 
lion votes and the turbulent brown tide was threatening to 
engulf the nation. Events began to move fast. Doctor 
Briining, the Chancellor, was battling against time, hoping 
against hope to save Germany from the financial disaster 
which would break the last remaining dam; rushing from 
Berlin to Paris, from Paris to London, and from London to 
Lausanne, bringing back the cancellation of reparations and 
the echo of Herriot's fine words, but no loan. One more set 

n6 Hello ^America! 

of emergency decrees and the battle would be won perhaps. 
The tension in the country was terrific; ministers were 
scared of their own shadows. I tried to get Doctor Curtius, 
the Foreign Minister, to broadcast to America; he agreed, 
but not from Berlin. I saw him in Geneva: the text was 
prepared, everything set. At the last minute he backed out, 
and in a significant interview he explained to me his diffi- 
culties. Some anti-international demonstrations had just 
taken place in Germany, the question of German minorities 
in Poland was being argued in Geneva, and the liberal For- 
eign Minister was terrified to speak as he would have to, 
for America in conciliatory tones! By the following Sep- 
tember, Curtius and several other ministers were out, 
though Briining still remained. 


But mysterious moves were taking place behind his back. 
The Junkers had got his range; his credit with Hindenburg 
was being undermined; Franz von Papen, wartime military 
attache at Washington (whence he had been deported for 
promoting acts of sabotage), now the old President's 'fair- 
haired boy/ was getting ready to sell the pass. Hypnotized 
by his camarilla, Hindenburg 'came to life' and refused to 
sign Briining's decrees; on May 30, 1932 ten weeks after 
Hindenburg's re-election Briining was forced to resign. 

When this happened I was in Frankfort-on-Main, arrang- 
ing to broadcast the national German Sdngerfest to America. 
Crowds collected outside the newspaper offices to read the 
bulletins; something intangible was in the air, reminiscent 
of the old revolutionary days in Berlin. In a flash it came 
to me that this was 'it': it was the end of Germany as I had 
known it; the willing, democratic post-war Germany; the 
Germany alive with a new literature, a new art, and a new 
culture; the Germany that wanted to be a part of Europe 
and forget the past. A friend living in Frankfurt said to me: 

Wooden Idol in TZerlin Woodchopper in TJoorn 117 

'We've all been reading the wrong papers; if we'd read 
the Volkische Beobachter and the other Nazi papers we should 
have known what was happening. We were all fools/ 

What was happening is this. In July, while hundreds of 
beer-drinking philistines from all over Germany were war- 
bling about blue-eyed maidens and golden wine and the 
birds in spring at their annual orgy of song, the Nazis had 
just polled their highest vote; the Reichstag, with two hun- 
dred and thirty brown shirts in it, was dissolved the day 
it met; Papen was Chancellor, but soon had to give way to 
the sinister General Schleicher (the name means Creeper), 
and straightway opened the negotiations with Hitler which 
were to have such momentous results. Meantime the Wooden 
Idol, sitting in the mansion of his East Prussian estate, 
mourning the departure of his charming Kamerad, Papen, 
was thinking furiously and dreaming mighty dreams. Like 
unto that legendary dreamer, the Emperor Barbarossa of 
German pseudo-history, he saw himself awakening in a 
reborn German Reich. 

The dream was not to become articulate until the day he 
penned his famous testament. 'From the eternally agitated 
scene of human life will emerge again that rock to which the 
hope of our fathers clung, that rock upon which ... we 
founded the German Kaiserreich' (Imperial monarchy). All 
his life the old man kept his counsel on his innermost thoughts. 
When I left the Emperor, in the afternoon of November 9 
[1918],' he wrote, 'I was never to see him again/ His duty 
the one duty which in the end invalidated every other vow 
was to the Emperor alone. 


It was sheer coincidence that my radio quest had led me 
that very spring in the direction of Doom. The public has 
an almost morbid interest in the hapless creatures whom 
fate has singled out to wear a crown, and the interest be- 

n8 Hello ^America! 

comes acute in the case of an exile from the throne. The 
fate of those who have wielded power in the quasi-sanctity 
of royal palaces appeals to the perfervid imaginations of 
romantic souls in a very particular way. As soon as the 
transatlantic radio was functioning, therefore, Americans 
wanted to hear the voice of the ex- Kaiser the man who 
above all was thought to be responsible for the troubles of 
the world. 

In a none too hopeful mood I attempted to supply this 
doubtful commodity to my 'customers/ I knew that de- 
throned monarchs are privileged but carefully guarded 
guests, who must not abuse the hospitality of the friendly 
country in which they reside. Politically they are severely 
restricted by their hosts. Still, the Dutch government offi- 
cials whom I approached were not as uncompromising in 
their attitude as I had expected. A special civil officer a 
sort of official watchdog of the diplomatic proprieties had 
been appointed to look after the Kaiser's affairs; and this 
gentleman ruled that since in non-political matters the 
Kaiser was free, the Government's permission for a non- 
political broadcast to America was not required. The road 
was therefore clear, provided the Kaiser himself was willing. 
I applied to the chamberlain of the ex-Kaiser's 'court' at 
Doom House, but soon found that the royal road led via 
Berlin. I went. 

There, in one of the lesser palaces facing Unter den Linden, 
was concealed the headquarters of the Kaiser's estates, 
stewarded by a smart, dashing baron of the pre-war type 
a trusted member of the imperial entourage. This gentle- 
man not only supervised the administration of the ex-Em- 
peror's extensive properties which an accommodating So- 
cial Democratic government had first confiscated after the 
revolution and then legislated back into the Hohenzollern 
family but he also kept close contact with his imperial 
master, reporting personally in Doom every week or two on 
the general state of affairs. 

The little palace, when I walked up to it by appointment, 
had the appearance of being shut. No one answered my 
knock on the stately front door. But a side entrance led 

Wooden Idol in "Berlin Woodchopper in TDoorn 119 

through a littered maze of backyard passages to an open-air 
flight of steps, leading to an unobtrusive side door with a 
sign announcing it to be the office of the private estates of 
'His Imperial and Royal Majesty, Wilhelm II.' An ordinary 
bell brought a servant to the door, who led me through a 
long corridor to the handsomer front part of the house, deco- 
rated in the neo-classical or pseudo-Empire style of early 
nineteenth century Prussia. Eventually I found myself in 
the cozy white-and-gilt waiting-room of the Herr Baron. 

He was a very charming but temperamental person. When 
I told him that I was there on behalf of American interests 
he began to bristle. Suddenly, turning toward me in purple 
rage, he raised his forefinger and shouted: 'American ha! 
Do you know what you have done ? . . . You stole our 

His attitude was terrifying, his face quivered as he waved 
me aside, before I could even voice my astonishment. In 
about ten minutes' harangue, delivered in tones of Nemesis, 

he went on : ' Yes, you stole our Kaiser Your Mr. Wilson 

did it, with his Fourteen Points Never, except for the 

lying promises he made to us, would His Majesty have con- 
sented to leave German soil. It was on the assurance of fair 
terms, in order to save the lives of our starving people, to 
avert needless bloodshed that he left, on the solemn promise 
of that famous 'peace without victory' (his voice had become 
a snarl). 

'No! we were not beaten: never believe that the glorious 
German army was beaten in the field. We were lured into 
surrender after our Kaiser had left to save the German 
people from more suffering . . .' 

On and on went the flow of angry words, until the excited 
baron's voice gave out and I seemed to have wilted under 
the lash of his avenging tongue. At last, when I could be 
heard, I said that this was indeed an interesting version of 
history which I, of course, did not know. I thought that it 
ought to be told, and told by the Kaiser himself. The Amer- 
ican public would no doubt be keenly interested to hear it. 
At this his angry countenance melted into a smile and he 

Hello ^America! 

'I ask your pardon/ he said, 'but you will understand. I 
had to get this off my chest. Now that I have said what I 
had to say, let us be friends/ 

I was amazed at such naivete and almost touched. I 
seemed to have been the first American he had met to whom 
he could 'tell the truth/ Now he was satisfied and we talked 
business, quite amicably and intimately. He promised to 
put my proposal about the broadcast to His Majesty 
on his next trip to Doom. But he wanted me to realize that 
the time was not yet ripe. And confidentially (the facts 
are now common property, so there is no question of violat- 
ing his confidence) he told me that important political devel- 
opments were about to take place developments which 
would change the whole face of things and then, presum- 
ably, the Kaiser might break his silence. In any case, my 
suggestion would have serious consideration, and I was 
definitely the first in the field. We shook hands cordially as 
he saw me out through the front door. 


I could not help pondering what he had said. 'Important 
developments!' Remember this was in the spring of 1932 
at least seven months before the Nazi coup, of which the 
world had no inkling then. But was that what he meant? 
It seems reasonable to believe that the Hohenzollerns knew 
what was in the wind. One of the Kaiser's sons was a promi- 
nent storm-troop leader; the Crown Prince himself was a 
benevolent friend of the movement. But if they did know, 
they must have had reason to hope for a different outcome 
of these 'important developments/ Who would have 
thought that utter oblivion was in store for them all? 

But there was another story, of which I as most people 
in and outside Germany had no knowledge. The story 
has now been told on what I believe to be the unimpeachable 
authority of one of the actors in the shadowy drama that 

Wooden Idol in TZerlin Woodchopper in ^Doorn 12.1 

was being enacted behind the scenes. 1 Speaking of Chancellor 
B riming, this authority says: 'Long hours of contemplation 
had convinced him that one course, and one course only, 
could prevent Hitler from ultimately obtaining supreme 
power the restoration of the monarchy/ In 1932 this 
plan had, under cover, become practical politics. It was 
known to a very select number of political leaders, it had been 
broached to Hindenburg, whose re-election was the first step 
in Briining's well-considered plan. Step number 2 was the 
end of reparations (accomplished in June); step number 3 
the securing of a two-thirds majority in the Reichstag, which 
could then change the Constitution and declare Hindenburg 
regent for life. Finally, the old man would be succeeded by a 
grandson of the Kaiser, who would become a constitutional 
sovereign on the English model. 

That's where the old gentleman baulked. He was out- 
raged at the idea of anything less than a military absolutism 
a Greater Prussia, on the principles of the post-Napoleonic 
era. And as for a grandson of the Kaiser ' I am the trustee 
of the Emperor/ he had said, 'and can never give my consent 
to anyone's succeeding to the throne save the Emperor 


So that was it! The emotional Baron must have known 
or thought that these differences of detail and personnel 
were being smoothed out, and then then the dream that 
the Old Man was dreaming in the solitude of Neudeck would 
come true. Few people shared that dream, but among them 
were the Imperial Woodchopper, and the baron who shuttled 
back and forth between Berlin and Doom. Yet Germany 
was within an ace of getting its Kaiser back. But the Junkers 
overplayed their hand: Briining was sent away; Papen and 
Schleicher, trying to outsmart each other, got caught in the 

1 See John W. Wheeler-Bennett's Wooden Titan, London and New York, 1937. 

12.2. Hello ^America! 

meshes of their own nets. The very thing that should have 
helped the plan the recession of the Nazi flood in Novem- 
ber (they lost two million votes at the Reichstag elections) 
sealed Wilhelm's fate; for Hitler, realizing that he had 
passed his peak, closed the deal with Papen and on Janu- 
ary 30, 1933, Hitler's hordes marched through the Branden- 
burger Gate. 

The Field Marshal's dream was dreamed out. From the 
very palace where barely a year before he had made his New 
Year's broadcast, he had to review the never-ending flood 
of marching 'S.A.' and 'S.S.' And another humorous tale 
went the rounds in Berlin. As the old soldier watched the 
brown shirts shuffling along rather sloppily, and then beheld 
the brisk, precise stepping of the Steel Helmet Corps (old 
front soldiers), his tired old mind carried him back to the 
great old days of the Battle of Tannenberg. Turning to 
LudendorfF he whispered (so the story goes): 'How magnifi- 
cently your men march, General! But I didn't think they 
had made so many prisoners!' 

'God has many times saved Germany in deepest need,' 
he had said in his broadcast. 'He will not forsake us now.' 

Hermann Goring, seeing the old gentleman reviewing the 
Nazi triumph, said, 'How gloriously has the aged Field 
Marshal been used as an instrument in the hand of God!' 

The dream was dreamed out. Adolf Hitler was Chancellor 
of Germany, and woodchopping was still the imperial occu- 
pation at Doom. 



TWO of the most memorable events in the pioneer years 
of international broadcasting were the radio talks to 
America made by Mahatma Gandhi and by Leon Trotsky, 
the one from London in 1931, the other from Copenhagen 
in 1932. Neither of them had ever faced the microphone 
before; one had recently been released from prison; the 
other had just been granted a respite from isolation on a 
lonely Turkish island. Both were to proceed to further 
penance for their revolutionary activity Gandhi to his 
Indian jail, Trotsky to perpetual exile. But in the interim 
the world had, by means of the new instrument of com- 
munication, been able to take an independent measure of 
these men. 

Here were two revolutionary figures destined to live in 
history, yet as different in character and method as Jesus of 
Nazareth and Napoleon of Corsica. That two such leaders 
should leave their mark on the same generation of men is an 
indication of the curious contradiction of heterogeneous 
thought in a mechanically more than ever unified world. 
But there is a certain analogy to be drawn between these 
men's careers. Both are Orientals; both were members of a 
middle-class intelligentsia, destined to lead a revolt of 
the lowly against their oppressors. The differences in their 
philosophy and their technique were determined by the con- 
ditions confronting them in their struggles. They were intel- 
lectual leaders of the social revolution in the two largest 
politically integrated countries in the world, peopled between 

Hello ^America! 

them by one quarter of the world's population and covering 
one fifth of the habitable globe. Coming into contact with 
these two dynamic personalities even for a brief space is an 
experience not easily forgotten. 

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, styled by his followers 
Mahatma (the Great-Souled), had been the moving spirit of 
the Indian revolutionary movement for upwards of twenty 
years, but in England his personal power was thought to 
have been spent when he retired from active politics in 1924. 
But suddenly he emerged from his supposed retirement in 
1930, to organize the civil disobedience campaign which was 
to result in violent disorder and much bloodshed just at the 
moment when Great Britain was tackling the thorny problem 
of Indian constitutional reform. 'Civil disobedience' was the 
practical expression of the doctrine of Ahimsa (non-violence) 
preached by Gandhi as the revolutionary creed and strategy 
of India. The campaign had reached its climax in the famous 
March to the Sea, the symbolical salt-making expedition 
which led to Gandhi's arrest and confinement in Yeravda jail 
in May, 1930. The whole country was once more aflame and 
a wave of sanguinary fanaticism swept the population 
toward revolt. Gandhi in prison and this was not his 
first imprisonment proved more dangerous to the British 
government than Gandhi at large; for his 'martyrdom' 
roused the Moderates to espouse his cause. Their venerable 
leader, Vithalbhai Patel, resigned the presidency of the 
Legislative Assembly to assume active leadership of the 
revolutionary Congress Party while Gandhi was in jail. 
Eventually, however, a truce was brought about which 
resulted in Gandhi's liberation and his journey to London to 
attend the second Round Table Conference. 

By the time Gandhi was released and set to go to London, 
the Labor Cabinet had made way for the National Govern- 
ment. Sir Samuel Hoare was at the head of the India 
Office and the atmosphere of the dominant section of the 
British public was hostile to Gandhi. The ordinary unin- 
formed man regarded him quite frankly as a political crimi- 
nal, much as the average American business man regards 
even the mildest 'Red.' To that class of Englishman, fed by 

(^ and hi tats While ^America Waits 12.5 

a ranting imperialistic press, even the personal integrity of 
a person like Gandhi was inconceivable. Yet even my own 
fleeting contact with this extraordinary man gave me con- 
vincing proof of the rarest kind of unselfish honesty an 
example of that satyagraha which once enabled him to face a 
fanatical patriotic assembly and say that he would, if he had 
to, sacrifice even India to Truth. 


The Round Table Conference, convened after elaborate 
preparation and tremendous preliminary touting, was to be 
opened with all possible pomp and solemnity by King George 
V on September 14, 1931. Gandhi, accompanied by his 
Indianized European secretary, and devotee, Madeline 
Slade, daughter of a British admiral, and several Congress 
leaders, sailed from Bombay on a P. and O. liner in August. 
In May his coming to England had still been doubtful, but I 
kept in touch with several groups of his disciples in London, 
who supplied me with a variety of advice, some of it curious. 
One of these disciples, who was stated to have spent some six 
months the previous year in close contact with the Mahatma, 
wrote that if we wanted the latter to broadcast it was ad- 
visable to: 

(1) State clearly the object of the proposed address (he 
would fight shy of it if he thought it just a stunt of a 
4 scoop '); 

(2) Make no appeal to his vanity, as he has none; 

(3) On no account offer him money; 

(4) Not try to impress him; and 

(5) Spell his name correctly it means (in Hindustani) 
'rubbish' or * refuse/ 

Despite the postscript which said that the letter was 'written 
under some difficulty in a pigsty/ I thought the advice very 
sound and determined to act on it. However, New York had 
already tried to 'impress* the Mahatma with long cablegrams 

12.6 Hello ^America! 

from Indian Congress representatives in America and heads 
of organizations, and there was no reply to these grandilo- 
quent invitations to follow in the footseps of Rabindranath 
Tagore and address the American audience by radio. 

Our Opposition had out-manoeuvred us by sending a 
personal emissary to Gandhi in India an American news- 
paperman who knew the Mahatma and had orders to accom- 
pany him all the way to England. He got a promise from him 
to broadcast for the N.B.C., and kept silent on the existence 
of any other network. 

However, there were other factors to be considered. 
One was the British Government; another was Gandhi's 
hostess in London, for it had been arranged for him to live 
privately in a settlement house in the East End of London, 
namely Kingsley Hall at Bow, founded and administered by 
Miss Muriel Lester, one of those angels of mercy whose 
mission is to bring spiritual sunshine and a little material 
warmth into the lives of the poor. I knew Miss Lester's sister 
Doris, head of another settlement, the Children's House, just 
around the corner from Kingsley Hall. It was a dismal part 
of London untidy streets lined with low and melancholy- 
looking brick houses from whose narrow doorways swarmed 
ill-clad, unwashed children. They would crowd around our 
car with frightening familiarity when we arrived with bundles 
of hand-me-down clothing for Miss Doris's waifs. 

Kingsley Hall was a curious modern structure forming a 
square around a courtyard, with a balcony running around 
the inside walls, from which doors led to individual tiny 
rooms or ' cells ' in which to rest and meditate. In one of these 
cells the Mahatma was to live on the simple, abstemious 
scale to which he was accustomed, while the rest of the dele- 
gates to the great Conference lived at Dorchester House and 
other fashionable West End hotels. The fact that this addic- 
tion to lowliness involved daily trips of six miles in either 
direction did not frighten Gandhi. He was to feel that he was 
among his own people the lowly and the poor. 

I visited Miss Lester and got her permission to install 
the special telephone lines and other equipment that would 
be necessary to 'pipe* a talk by Gandhi to the Radio Termi- 

Cjandhi tats While ^America Waits 12.7 

nal of the General Post Office and thence to Rugby, where it 
would be radiated to America. We also arranged that she, as 
his hostess, should introduce the Mahatma to his American 
audience, and should describe the surroundings in which he 
was speaking her own Kingsley Hall. And I gave the 
requisite orders to the radio engineers of the Post Office 
(with whom at that time we dealt direct, with the consent of 
the B.B.C.). 


As to the other factor the Government difficulties 
were likely to ensue. A speech by Gandhi was considered 
dynamite; a speech made direct to America, without the 
possibly restraining influence of an English audience, might 
be embarrassing to the British Government, which is rather 
sensitive on the point of American opinion. (Katherine Mayo 
had done too good a job to allow Gandhi to ruin it.) One may 
judge the feelings of the Conservative press from a paragraph 
in the Morning Post a few days before the broadcast: 'There 
does not appear to be any relevant reason why Gandhi should 
harangue the American public, but I suppose it is the natural 
sequel to the immense flood of Gandhi propaganda in the 
U.S.A. . . . Most American broadcast programs are spon- 
sored by commercial firms, so perhaps it is an advertisement 
for California lemon-growers.' 

Luckily I had a slight but pleasant acquaintance with Sir 
Samuel Hoare, the Secretary of State for India. I wrote him 
a personal note, and although it is rare for a journalist or any- 
one of that order to be received privately by a Cabinet 
Minister in office, I had a summons to the India Office by 
return of post. It is not 'etiquette' to reveal ministerial con- 
fidences, but I think it is permissible to say that I was not 
deceived in my estimate of the Government's attitude. I laid 
all my cards on the table and rather rashly assumed 
the responsibility for the content of anything that Gandhi 

12.8 Hello ^America! 

might say. In other words, I guaranteed that it would con- 
tain nothing seditious, and this guarantee covered the entire 
enterprise, both for ourselves and any other American 
broadcasting organization! Sir Samuel, with one of those 
broad gestures of personal confidence, simply made me a 
foreigner Gandhi's sponsor, and on that basis gave per- 
mission to the Post Office (which at that psychological 
moment, as it happened, asked for his O.K.) to lay the lines. 
Gandhi landed on one of those wet and hopelessly dreary 
autumn days that London excels in producing at all seasons 
of the year. He reached London on an ordinary train, arriv- 
ing in a chilling, drenching rain. Wearing only his loincloth 
and a sort of white cotton sheet slung over his shoulder, with 
the usual crude sandals on his feet, he was hustled by a band 
of admirers, white and brown, to the Friends' Meeting House 
for an official welcome. The Quakers had taken it upon them- 
selves to be the first hosts to the World's Non-Resister 
Number One. He told his audience he had come on a mission 
of peace, simply because he had promised the Viceroy he 
would come. Laurence Housman, the English poet, in 
introducing him said that 'no man loses by keeping his word 
of honor/ 


I got my first glimpse of the Indian saint a couple of hours 
later, at Kingsley Hall, where some twenty of us, mostly 
representatives of local organizations led by the Mayor of 
Bow, waited for him in a large empty room through which 
he had to pass on his way to the ' cell.' It was a long wait, for 
a melancholy Saturday afternoon, and outside the rain came 
down in sheets. At last we heard a cheer. None the worse for 
the wet, the Mahatma arrived, hatless and bald, his thin 
brown legs and arms bare, greeted us with a smile exposing 
the gaping vacancies between his teeth, and regarded us 
through his tin-framed spectacles. A more puny, homely, 

Cjandhi ats While ^America Waits 12.9 

and unimpressive human being I have never seen. Miss 
Lester introduced us all, with an astonishing virtuosity of 
memory. The Mahatma looked at each one in turn, patiently 
smiled again and said, ' I don't think you'll expect me to re- 
member your names/ And that was that. No well-meaning 
mendacities. As he disappeared into the corridor I realized 
that a Gandhi couldn't tell even a ' white' lie for the sake of 
being polite. 

A group of dusky turbaned gentlemen followed the 
white-bearded Pandit Malvya among them and were 
ushered into the 'cell' for a political conference. The picture 
had something biblical about it: a council of high-browed 
elders, crouching on the floor, listening to the wisdom of the 
Master . . . 

Hovering outside, on the long narrow balcony, the women, 
swathed in homespun s harts draped over their heads with 
Sarojini Naida, the Indian poetess, and Madeline Slade 
looking dark and Oriental despite her long English face 
completed the illusion. There was no interrupting the con- 
clave; the fate of a nation was being discussed, while all mun- 
dane business waited. At long last I was ushered into the 
Mahatma's presence. He was affable and came to the point 
at once. He listened to my explanation of the American 
broadcasting system and the existence of two major com- 
petitive 'chains.' He said he was not willing to make two 
broadcasts, but would like the one to be shared by all; the 
time I proposed, six in the evening on the next day, a Sunday, 
was acceptable; it fitted in with his rigid program of meals 
and silences and conferences. It also happened to be our 
regular Sunday hour for European programs, to which a vast 
audience was accustomed. He proposed a miniature 'round 
table conference' with the two American competitors and 

An hour or so later the 'Opposition,' hastily summoned, 
arrived, two men strong. Once again we were ushered in. It 
was Gandhi's mealtime. Crouching on the floor, with an 
appetizing ensemble of fruit and a jug of goat's milk before 
him he laughingly bade us be seated, and as there were no 
chairs we all squatted in a circle on the floor. Gandhi spoke. 

130 Hello ^America! 

'Mr. M ,' he began, 'I have promised to broadcast 

for you, and I am prepared to do it. Now here is another 
broadcasting company, and you did not tell me there was 
more than one. Nevertheless, a promise is a promise and I 
must fulfill it. I want to accommodate everyone, but I am a 
busy man just now and prefer not to make two speeches. 
I suggest (with a gesture meant for all of us) you get together 
and arrange to help me save time/ 

He looked at me questioningly and I signified my agree- 
ment. The Opposition, represented by the European 

Manager of Mr. M 's press association, spoke up and 


'We have heard your wishes, Mahatma, and I am sure 
we'll now be able to straighten the matter out among our- 

'Hurrah!' cried the Mahatma. 'America is at peace. 
That's splendid/ and shook hands all round. Once again we 
confirmed the time, and we left the little old man to his 
bananas and dates. Outside, on the stairs, my rival calmly 
announced that the broadcast was 'exclusive' and could be 
given to us only if his New York office agreed. I was dumb- 
founded. I reminded him that his office had omitted to do 
anything about telephone lines and broadcasting equipment, 
and that I was not prepared to let him use mine. 

'Oh, I'm glad you mentioned this,' he said. 'In that 
case I'll just take the Mahatma in a taxicab to Radio Termi- 
nal (the point of distribution for all transoceanic talks), and 
make the broadcast from there.' 

The mental picture of this struck me as comical and I 
heartily agreed to this proposed arrangement if he could 
carry it out. 

Meantime tremendous and completely useless struggles 
were carried out between the rival organizations in New 
York. The press agency whose representative had been 
acting for the N.B.C. was bombarded with telegrams from 
client newspapers who also owned stations on the Columbia 
network. Long-distance telephone wires hummed with 
pleadings and recriminations; the transatlantic telephone did 
a rushing business. Both networks announced 'exclusive' 

(jandhi tats While ^America Waits 131 

broadcasts in the press. I sat tight, knowing the Mahatma's 
mind, and feeling armed against all eventualities by my 
government permission and my lines. 

Next morning, the morning of the broadcast, a radio tele- 
phone official called me at my house to say that N.B.C. had 
applied for lines to Kingsley Hall. It was impossible to get 
permission for another installation at such short notice; was 
I willing for them to be used by our Opposition? 'Yes/ I 
said, 'provided they are not used earlier than our broadcast/ 
That being reasonable, orders were given accordingly. 


The time for the broadcast arrived. In my excitement I 
had forgotten that I had to introduce another speaker at the 
B.B.C.'s studios in Savoy Hill a half hour before Gandhi's 
talk. I kept my appointment and had my car ready outside. 
Checking by telephone with Miss Lester and the engineers, 
I heard that all was going according to plan. Realizing that I 
could not reach Bow in time I stopped near St. Paul's 
Cathedral and turned into the Radio Terminal building 
the very place where my competitor had so confidently 
threatened to take the Mahatma. Here I could listen not 
only to the broadcast but to the tests and all the preliminary 
conversations going on in the room. The engineers were 
there, Miss Lester was there, my competitors were there. 
The Mahatma was late. Calm and unconcerned, he was 
finishing his meal of fruit and goat's milk upstairs. The 
clock ticked on; zero hour came and passed. Someone said he 
was coming soon; as all America was waiting with bated 
breath, some speaker had to fill the empty air. The redoubt- 
able press association chief produced a lengthy script an 
' introduction ' prepared in advance on behalf of the Opposi- 
tion and mentioning that company by name, which he was to 

I held my breath; would my absentee diplomacy work? 

132. Hello ^America! 

The radio engineer in charge spoke up; asked whether I 
wasn't present. No, I was delayed, Miss Lester informed 
him; but I had invited her to announce the distinguished 
guest. General approval around the room. Miss Lester be- 
gan. As she described the place, the voices of slum children 
playing in the street floated in through the windows. Then 
the Mahatma entered. He had never seen a microphone. 

'Do I talk into this thing?' he inquired audibly a 
stage whisper heard by millions. 

Sitting at the table prepared for him, opposite a statuette 
of Saint Francis discreetly set into the wall, he folded his 
hands and closed his eyes. He had no manuscript. After a 
few seconds silence he began, simply, without any attempt at 
oratory, in beautiful English which hardly showed a trace of 
an Indian accent: 

'In my opinion the Indian struggle bears in itself con- 
sequences not merely affecting India but the whole world/ 

In simple, clear-cut, moderate phrases, unadorned by 
hyperbole, he stated the Indian problem, in its historical 
perspective, in its social aspects, and as a revolutionary 
challenge. He had no manuscript; yet there was not an 
instant's hesitation. Would he stick to the bargain I had 
made without his consent? I knew that government officials 
would listen on monitor lines; knew that shorthand tran- 
scripts were being made. For nearly a half hour he went on, 
slowly and every word distinct, his thin, high-pitched voice 
automatically lowered through transmission, but clear and 
unwavering, explaining his 'non-violent* revolution: 

' I feel in the innermost recesses of my heart that the world 
is sick unto death of blood-spilling. The world is seeking a 
way out, and I flatter myself with the belief that perhaps it 
will be the privilege of the ancient land of India to show that 
way out to the hungering world.' 

(jandhi ats While ^America Waits 133 


But the climax of the speech was his plea for the 'semi- 
starved millions scattered throughout the seven hundred 
thousand villages dotted over a surface nineteen hundred 
miles long and fifteen hundred miles broad/ 

'It is a painful phenomenon that those simple villages, 
through no fault of their own, have nearly six months in the 
year idle upon their hands. Time was not long ago when 
every village was self-sufficient in regard to the two primary 
human wants food and clothing. Unfortunately for us, 
when the East India Company, by means which I would 
prefer not to describe, destroyed that supplementary village 
industry and the millions of spinners who had become 
famed through the cunning of their deft fingers for drawing 
the finest thread, such as has never been yet drawn by any 
modern machinery these village spinners found themselves 
one fine morning with their noble occupation gone, and from 
that day forward India has become progressively poor, no 
matter what may be said to the contrary/ This was the only 
note of criticism in the twenty-minute talk. Gandhi was in 
England on a mission of peace. I knew he would not abuse 
the hospitality of his hosts. 

But most eloquent was his plea for the Untouchables 
the outcast millions of India whose fate lay in the hands of 
his own countrymen and for whom he himself was not long 
afterwards to undertake a 'fast unto death/ stopped only 
when near his extremity he was assured of their salva- 
tion by a pledge of reform. 

'It is a matter of still deeper humiliation to me that 
we Hindus regard several million of our kith and kin as too 
degraded even for our touch. I refer to the so-called Un- 
touchables. These are no small weaknesses in a nation 
struggling to be free, and hence you find that in this struggle 
through self-purification we have assigned a foremost place 
to the removal of this curse of untouchability and the attain- 
ment of unity among^all the different classes and communities 

134 Hello ^America! 

of India representing the different creeds. It is along the 
same lines that we seek to rid our land of the curse of drink/ 

The room was hushed; everybody seemed under a spell. 
Outside in the twilight, the children were still at their play; 
their voices could be heard wherever people listened to 
Gandhi, as a reminder that he was speaking from an English 
slum. It was heard by millions; it was printed in full by 
newspapers in three continents. Nothing Gandhi ever said 
reached so many people; it was the largest audience he had 
ever had. 

He had risen, as usual, at four that morning; had medi- 
tated, prayed, and worked. After his broadcast he the 
one public figure in the world who lives completely by the 
Golden Rule preached a sermon in a Christian service 
held in Kingsley Hall, then left for a surprise conference 
on neutral ground with the Prime Minister, which lasted 
till nearly midnight. Next day, the Round Table Conference 
opened on a Monday, Gandhi's ' day of silence/ He sat at 
the Conference table, listened, and spoke no word. Even his 
dumb presence electrified some who were there. Here, at any 
rate, was a man; here, for once, they were confronted with the 
inflexible power of Truth. The compromise announced by 
Ramsay MacDonald at the end of the Conference he met 
with an openly announced resolve that he would resist it with 
his life. 

He left England as he had come with empty hands and 
a pure heart. Six days after his arrival in India he was im- 
prisoned and returned to Yeravda jail, where nine months 
later he began his historic fast. 



ONE fine Monday morning in November, 1932, I picked 
up my paper and read a report that Leon Trotsky, the 
Russian revolutionist, had escaped from Prinkipo, the island 
in the Sea of Marmora on which he had been confined for 
the past four years. The lion was at large, and the world 
pricked up its ears. Ever since, after years of exile in eastern 
Siberia, the Trotsky family had been deported at the orders 
of Joseph Stalin, the undisputed master of the Soviets, the 
Turkish Government as the only one in Europe or Asia 
- had given him this refuge, where, like Napoleon at Elba, 
he was isolated yet under convenient surveillance. Here 
unlike Napoleon this restless rebel had developed a pro- 
digious literary activity, the proceeds of which helped to 
finance a new world-wide revolutionary movement, the Left 
Opposition, and to promote the organization of the Fourth 

For most people of literary bent this exile might have en- 
tailed no hardships: Trotsky's writings were in fair demand 
in 'bourgeois' countries, and the intervals of intellectual 
work were filled out by fishing and sailing adventures which 
provided excitement of a kind. Faithful disciples had gath- 
ered around him, and he was in a fair way to becoming a 
revolutionary sage. But physically the old fighter was cut 
off from the world; and his autobiography, closing with a 
sardonic chapter on 'The World without Visa/ revealed the 
exile's grief. Here was the man of action; the revolutionist 
who had tasted power; once the War Commissar of the 

136 Hello ^America! 

world's largest country, who had negotiated the Peace of 
Brest-Li to vsk, who had fought the 'white* forces of Europe 
to a standstill; sterilized, cut off from active strife in the 
midst of a world in turmoil. 

Sickness, the hardships of exile and deportation, and per- 
sonal bereavement had done little to break this man's spirit; 
the untimely death of a son and the suicide of a daughter 
were mere episodes in an embattled rebel's life. None of 
these things, nor his professed need for medical attention, 
had induced the European statesmen some of them his 
former Socialist ' comrades' to relax the political quar- 
antine which held him prisoner. 

And now, all of a sudden, he was to have a week out a 
trip to northern Europe, not for rest but for political work. 
It seemed incredible. It seemed incredible that a socialist 
students' organization in Denmark, which desired to hear 
him speak, could secure not only a week's permit for him to 
stay, but free passage through Italy and France coun- 
tries in which two former Socialist comrades, Mussolini and 
Laval, were in command. 

The newspapers were none too certain in their first reports. 
A man named Lubinsky, supposed to be Trotsky, had em- 
barked in the Italian steamer Praga, bound for Naples and 
now at sea. The news was both interesting and disquieting 
to a radio man in London. Here was one of the actors in 
the greatest human mass drama of our time; a man who had 
one of the most thrilling inside stories in history to tell. 
Europe might be afraid to hear it; but what about America, 
where a violent Red scare had made him an object of the 
fascinated admiration accorded to first-class gangsters? It 
was from America that Trotsky had sailed to Petrograd to 
play his role in the ' ten days that shook the world.' I myself 
remembered the rather shabby, studious-looking Bohemian 
as he came to visit an editorial colleague in the office of a 
very bourgeois New York magazine (Current Opinion) in 
1916, of whom no one suspected that a few months later 
he would help to 'shake the world.' 

A broadcast by Trotsky, aside from all other considera- 
tions, would be a 'scoop.' 

Trotsky's Week Out 137 


Taking an off chance, I addressed a radiogram to 'Lubin- 
sky,' aboard the S.S. Praga. To my surprise, back came a 
reply signed 'Lubinsky-Trotsky,' thus disposing of any 
doubts as to the passenger's identity. Beyond this the pre- 
cious telegram didn't help much, for it deferred everything 
to Trotsky's arrival in Copenhagen, which what with 
meddlesome governments and an active competition 
might be too late. So I * parked' at the telephone for the 
rest of that day and the next; frequented Communist ac- 
quaintances; ferreted out connections in Paris, London, and 
Copenhagen itself. Max Eastman, the translator of Trot- 
sky's 'history,' happened to be in London and was helpful 
with advice. In Copenhagen the Socialist students were 
duly excited and ready to take matters in hand, incidentally 
hoping to recoup some of the expenses of Trotsky's trip, 
which they had guaranteed; ready, too, to exploit the well- 
known American spirit of competition. Everything consid- 
ered, I thought it better to go to bat myself on the ground. 

Meantime Trotsky's ship had touched Athens, where he 
was not allowed to land, while wife and daughter were given 
a police escort to help them look at antiques, and at Naples, 
where Fascist press men, darting from ambush, clicked 
cameras at the sight-seeing revolutionist. By this time the 
Trotsky Odyssey had become a world sensation and his sec- 
retaries had been promoted in the newspapers to body- 
guards. At Marseilles the police were prepared with an 
elaborate strategy which infuriated the cheated press. Tak- 
ing the 'dangerous' party off on a police boat they landed 
them outside the city, motored them to Avignon, and put 
them on board a sealed carriage attached to the Paris train. 
(In 1917 Lenin was sent in a sealed carriage through Ger- 
many to start the revolution in Russia.) The carriage was 
later switched on to another train which would reach Dun- 
kerque on Tuesday, just eight days after the Trotskys had 
left Prinkipo. The news that they were to embark on the 

138 Hello ^America! 

regular Dunkerque-Esbjerg steamer Bernstorff made me 
reserve a cabin on the ship in the hope of clinching the busi- 
ness en route. 

When I arrived at Dunkerque Harbor on that gray No- 
vember morning, there was not a newspaper reporter in sight. 
Foiled at Marseilles, the world's press had given up the hunt! 

For extra security the train was run right onto the quai. 
Trotsky, his small, blonde, and rather tousled-looking wife, 
and three youngish disciples were trailed all the way by two 
French secret-service men, who seemed to have stepped 
straight out of the funnies, unmistakable by the large, round, 
black slouch hats favored by their kind with slight inden- 
tations to break the monotony. The whole group was mar- 
shalled by a sectional chief of the Surete Nationale. I never 
saw a police officer who was such a perfect gentleman. His 
clothes, speech, and manner were those of a rising diplomat, 
and he treated the reputed firebrand with an old-world 
courtesy that bordered on deference, viseing the party's 
papers, looking after their tickets and accommodations, and 
bidding them good-bye with affable charm, but leaving the 
two detectives on board. 

The harbor police, who were looking after mere folks like 
myself, weren't half so pleasant. I had gone ashore in order 
to meet the train, and it took quite a lot of explaining and 
showing of credentials before I managed to get back. Be- 
sides the Trotskyites I was almost the only passenger; at 
any rate, if there were others I don't remember them. 


Trotsky and family disappeared into their compartment 
as soon as we cast off, and for the duration of the twenty- 
four-hour journey were not seen again. At the entrance to 
their corridor, day and night, stood a hefty detective; in the 
hall, just beyond, day and night, sat a secretary or body- 
guard. The three young men who accompanied him one 

Trotsky's Week Out 139 

German, one French, one Czech were animated by fan- 
atical devotion to a worshipped chief, like paladins to a cru- 
sading prince. Indeed, a pope in transit through infidel land 
could not have been more reverently guarded. 

Only once, in the middle of the night, did I see the great 
man emerge halfway down the corridor, in shirtsleeves, pen 
in hand, to call in one of his aides. He was evidently hard 
at work. An interview with him was a hopeless quest. One 
of the paladins, who afterwards turned out to be his personal 
secretary, eyed me with suspicion from the start, and evinced 
a strange curiosity as to my purposes and designs. After 
hours of small-talk fencing we came to grips. It was a ques- 
tion of money; Trotsky's man was not in a hurry to close the 
deal. After all, I might be a spy! 

When we arrived at Copenhagen the dock was crowded 
with a mob of hooting, whistling, jeering men. They carried 
immense red banners inscribed 'Long live the Soviet!* and 
'Down with Trotsky, the Traitor!' in Danish and German. 
When they saw Trotsky himself, standing on the narrow 
upper deck, near the rail, flanked by his family and friends, 
they shouted what must have been ugly threats. Trotsky, 
calm and undisturbed, peered at them with the professional 
curiosity of an entomologist examining a new specimen. We 
went down the gangplank; police held back the crowd and 
nothing happened. 

There was no sealed train this time: the party travelled in 
a compartment not far from mine; the rest were filled 
with Danish newspaper men. Trotsky, quite alone, stood 
in the passage, on the off-side of the train, as it stood at the 
station. Suddenly a grease-blacked face appeared in the 
doorway and looked furtively around. My heart stood still. 
I expected to see the man whip out a revolver. But it was 
only a slip of paper. He was an oiler or a brakeman and evi- 
dently a left-wing Communist, who had been sent as emis- 
sary by the local comrades. Presently a couple of other 
workmen appeared outside the window and handed up bits 
of paper for Trotsky to autograph. Trotsky signed them, 
smiled, and shook hands. 

At Copenhagen that evening a terrific crowd met the train. 

140 Hello ^America! 

In the rush I couldn't see what happened, and I barely cap- 
tured a taxicab to take me and belongings to the Palace 
Hotel. There, not long after me, appeared the two French 
secret-service men, sheepishly inquiring whether I had Mon- 
sieur Trotsky concealed presumably in a cupboard or 
under the bed. Evidently the porter had sent them to the 
newest arrival, as the most likely man. They had tried to 
connect with their charge at the station, but he had eluded 
them. They looked helpless and worried as they sat on the 
edge of my plush chairs and twirled their black hats to hide 
their embarrassment. They spoke nothing but French and 
here they were, lost lost in a strange, unfeeling world ! 

I offered to telephone around, and sure enough I got 
hold of the head of the Socialist students, who revealed that 
Comrade Trotsky was at the suburban house of a trusted 
party chief. What had happened was that the Danish police, 
unmindful of their French confreres, had stopped the train at 
a suburb and quietly taken the Trotskys off, while the 
retinue went on t Copenhagen. 

The French detectives were profuse in their thanks, but 
they wouldn't stay for a drink. Full of fresh hope, they 
bowed themselves out. 


My own 'detectives/ who had been taking local soundings, 
had bad news. The Danish State Radio Administration 
could not give us facilities for a talk by Trotsky, evidently 
by reason of orders from higher up. The state telephone 
people, who could if they would 'pipe' the talk to 
England for transmission to New York, were uncommuni- 
cative in the absence of government orders. A young Danish 
university lecturer, husband of a charming and radio- 
minded American girl of my acquaintance, came to the res- 
cue, took me to the government offices, and engineered an 
interview with the Prime Minister, Thorvald Stauning, in 

Trotsky's Week Out 141 

This gentle, fatherly statesman, a Social-Democrat of the 
solid pre-war type, who has maintained himself as the 
trusted head of a coalition government for eight consecutive 
years, was especially friendly because I had invited him some 
months before to address Americans on an all-Scandinavian 
occasion (with the Prime Ministers of Sweden and Norway) 
by way of the transatlantic radio. This had brought him 
hundreds of fan letters from former compatriots now citi- 
zens of America. He agreed that a talk by a Russian radical, 
via the same route, could not be interpreted as an act un- 
friendly to the Soviet Government. The Danish telephone, 
though a government department, would in fact only act as 
a 'common carrier 1 of what was really a private message 
until it reached New York. He smiled and stroked his enor- 
mous, graying Victorian beard. No, he had no objection, 
but it was for the Foreign Minister to decide (who probably 
had vetoed the plan in the first place). Might I go to the 
Foreign Minister and tell him the Prime Minister's view? 
I certainly might. I hustled back to the Foreign Ministry, 
and in a few minutes the deadlock was broken; the red tape 
was cut and the state telephone chief was at our service. 

Moreover, this had been a blessing in disguise. For the 
Trotsky camp, which had held out for an astronomical fee, 
saw their prospects fade when I betrayed no desire to break 
through the official barriers. An amiable American Leftist 
intellectual named Gould (one of the growing band of the 
faithful surrounding the great man) had, I learned, already 
been working on the translation of the proposed talk and 
coaching Trotsky, whose English was rusty from lack of 
use. Late on Friday night, two days before the projected 
broadcast, we came to terms a fee which any first-class 
American crooner would consider low. We were all set. 
Trotsky was to speak from the Telephone Building on Sun- 
day evening, two hours before his great lecture to the mass 
meeting assembled by the Socialist students. 

142. Hello ^America! 


Meantime the newspapers had got wind of the negotia- 
tions, and were on our trail. Trotsky's one condition was 
that there should be no local publicity. So when the day 
arrived we calmly referred all reporters to the broadcasting 
studios, while Trotsky was spirited in a closed cab to the 
main telephone exchange in another part of town. When 
he arrived, accompanied only by his Czech secretary, and 
was ushered with all ceremony into a room full of people, 
with the frock-coated telephone chief playing host, he 
thought he had been betrayed. 

'What are these? Journalists?* he burst out. 

We reassured him. There wasn't a journalist in the room, 
though every newspaper had been hounding the man of the 
hour for five days. The dignified telephone chief deferen- 
tially asked for an autograph (like the greasy workman the 
day before) and got it. An improvised studio had been pre- 
pared next door, and no one was admitted except myself. 
Here I was, alone with the world's most dreaded Red, one 
of the acknowledged military geniuses of the century and 
one of the greatest orators of all time. And I perceived that 
he was nervous. He had never spoken into a microphone: 
radio had not been developed in the Russia he had known. 

He spoke of his 'bad English* and tried it out on me. We 
went over phrase after phrase, he like a good student 
marking every wrong accent and inflection as I corrected 

Halfway through he asked, politely, might he remove his 
coat? He sat down before the 'mike* and tried his voice; 
was it all right like that? I suggested his natural, conversa- 
tional tone. 'You speak to millions, but to each man sep- 
arately/ He agreed that oratory was not called for; he would 
try to keep subdued. 

He started quietly, without gestures. But as he warmed 
up and this was his first public speech in five years or 
more ! he was like a warhorse smelling powder. He raised 

Trotsky's Copenhagen Broadcast, November, 1932 

'Here I was, alone with the world's most dreaded Red, one of the acknowledged 

military geniuses of the century and one of the greatest orators of all time' 

Trotsky's Week Out 143 

his voice; he gesticulated; oblivious of me and the empty 
room, he thumped the table with his forefinger, clenched his 
fist under the table, swung his arms as best he could. He 
was in a visionary's world: a Savonarola, a Dan ton, talking 
to imagined multitudes, as ' present ' in that tiny room as 
they would be in a crowded hall. 

I heard him again that night in an immense auditorium, 
crowded to the doors. This time he spoke in perfect, almost 
accentless German. His manner at that distance seemed 
singularly simple, unrhetorical, almost didactic; yet the 
accumulated logic of the facts was compelling. 'An aristo- 
crat and an actor/ Stalin once called him in derision. A pro- 
fessor and a hypnotist would describe him more truly. His 
speech, like the broadcast, was a historical analysis of the 
Russian revolution, nothing more. Pure theory; but it was 
the theorizing of a clairvoyeur. I thought of the shabby 
Bohemian I once saw in New York; I thought of the news- 
paper-reading lounger familiar to the cafe waiters of Central 
Europe before the war. I tried to think through the story 
of the twenty intervening years. Had history ever been 
made so fast before? 

Less than a week later, this man one of the three or 
four who more than any others have made the history of our 
time was on his way back to his island exile, guarded as 
before by the two comic men with black hats and stubbly 
chins, rushed through France in another sealed train, to 
spend another two years preparing that mythical Fourth 
International. How, like a political werewolf, he was to be 
hounded from country to country France, Norway, Mex- 
ico still frightening timid souls; how, in the country he 
helped to build, his name rightly or wrongly became 
the symbol for political heresy and the 'treason' that sent 
thousands to their deaths all this is too recent to need 
repeating. Trotsky, at sixty, is still a young man. Has the 
world drawn his sting? 



I'M SURE I cannot understand it/ said George V to 
the Archbishop of Canterbury, as they were walking in 
the garden of Buckingham Palace, in the spring of 1935, 'for 
after all I am only a very ordinary fellow/ 

They had been talking about the Royal Jubilee and the 
overwhelming acclamations of the populace on that resound- 
ing occasion. The Archbishop silently agreed with the 
King's estimate of himself, as later on he confessed in the 
same speech by which he revealed this rather intimate con- 
versation. For he told his audience that the late British 
Sovereign was 'not endowed with any conspicuous gifts of 
body or mind' and had 'no fuller education than that which 
was given to a sailor voyaging the sea.' And in the same 
strain Stanley Baldwin, His Majesty's minister and friend, 
spoke of George V as a modest man, 'diffident as to his own 
powers, often wondering what his people thought of what he 
had done and tried to do for them.' 

Yet this 'simple and truly humble' man, whose personal 
horizon was bounded by the daily routine of a dutiful civil 
servant and the recreations of a country squire inordinately 
fond of shooting, whose chief hobby was collecting the post- 
age stamps of his own country, and whose literary and musi- 
cal tastes hardly went beyond Sherlock Holmes and Balfe's 
Bohemian Girl, came to fill the throne more completely than 
it had been filled in centuries. George V was the first British 
king who was obliged to call a Socialist to power, and early 
in his reign he had surrendered the Sovereign's most highly 

Kingdoms for Old 145 

prized social prerogative to the designs of politicians. Never 
before had monarchy been so stripped of even the vestiges 
of power. Yet at the end of his reign an American com- 
mentator was moved to reflect: 'How much wider is the in- 
fluence of a British monarch today how much more per- 
vading his personality than ever before in the history of 
kings!' J King George, in truth, had given a new and wider 
meaning to kingship, in an age when thrones were toppling 
as never before, and only a bare remnant of reigning royalty 
was left in the world. 

In explaining this paradox it is of course necessary to con- 
sider the radical changes in the social fabric that had fol- 
lowed the Industrial Revolution and the World War, the 
depreciation of aristocratic values, and the enthronement of 
the bourgeois ideals of which King George and Queen Mary 
were the most perfect protagonists. George V was the kind 
of person that every genuine middle-class Briton would like 
to be a family man with a love for children and animals, 
a devotee of country life, simple in taste and suspicious of 
intellectual pretensions, a hater of everything foreign and 
sophisticated. It is because the King didn't try to be more, 
because he was so obviously one of themselves, that the 
people came to respect and admire him as they did. 


But that is not the whole story. Real affection does not 
thrive on hearsay and symbols alone. If King George had 
not been able to establish a direct contact with vast numbers 
of his subjects, they could not have grown to love him like 
a near relative and friend. As the first monarch in history 
he came to be on 'speaking terms' with virtually the whole 
English-speaking population of his realm and Dominions 
by means of the all-pervading ether waves. It was the radio 
that enabled him to make his nation into 'one great family,' 

1 Raymond Gram Swing, in a transatlantic broadcast, January 1936. 

146 Hello ^America! 

with himself as the father; it was by means of the radio that 
he established that sense of confidence which created a real 
feeling of identity with the people. To the radio was largely 
due the aura popularis which no previous constitutional 
ruler ever enjoyed and which allowed him to practise by 
sheer personal influence a statecraft which his earlier prede- 
cessors exercised through power. 

Perhaps even more than his predecessors King George in 
his earliest approaches to his subjects was hindered by the 
aloofness and formality which isolates all royalty from the 
masses. Gradually he lowered these barriers, but especially 
during the last decade of his life, when through quasi-direct 
communion with the people he came to know and love them. 
When, as Duke of York, he faced the cheering crowds he 
spoke to them as his future subjects, and of the Duchess as 
his 'royal consort.' When, near the end of his reign, he 
addressed them by radio they had become his 'very dear 
people' and the Queen his 'dear wife/ 

King George did not, like his more talented son Edward, 
enjoy a long training as orator and after-dinner speaker. 
He was thirty-six before he became heir apparent, and nine 
years later he was King 'sucked into the swirl of political 
controversy* within five years of the outbreak of the war. 1 
During the short years of his apprenticeship he hardly did 
more than read out the state speeches prepared for him by 
sagacious but tradition-bound advisers. Even after his ac- 
cession the King's few speeches, formal and prescribed, only 
indirectly reached more than a small number of people. 

The first time the whole nation heard his voice was in 
1924, when, clad in the uniform of an admiral, he opened the 
British Empire Exhibition at Wembley, near London. Al- 
most a hundred thousand people were present in the flesh; 
but millions everywhere listened to the speech of their King, 
for it was the first time that radio had come to their aid. 
It was probably the first king's speech ever to be broadcast 
anywhere. It was a plain speech, with 'the Empire' for its 
keynote, and there was only a passing reference to the * diffi- 
cult conditions which still surround life in many parts.' The 

1 Sir George Arthur: King George V (London, 1929). 

Kingdoms for Old 147 

following year he reopened the Exhibition for a second spell, 
and then his voice was not heard again by the nation at 
large until 1927. 

He himself, though he had begun to get tempting fan 
mail, discouraged too many repetitions of the experiment, 
having a shrewd idea that a monarch must be heard and 
seen by his people only on rare and important occasions. 
But the B.B.C. officials persisted, and during the next two 
years he was heard five times, opening new educational 
buildings, docks, and bridges in various parts of the coun- 
try. Late in 1928 King George fell seriously ill and his life 
was despaired of. The astonishing demonstrations of gen- 
uine anxiety, the long vigils outside the Palace gates, and 
the pious gratitude which followed his recovery were a rev- 
elation to the aging monarch, and there can be little doubt 
that broadcasting had had a considerable share in creating 
that immense wave of popular sympathy. 


By the time he was again able to speak in public, radio had 
become world-wide, and the speech with which he opened 
the Five-Power Naval Conference in 1930 was the first to be 
heard throughout the world. A somewhat less formal tone 
could be detected in the next two addresses, and when he 
opened the King George V Dock in Glasgow the following 
year he referred to 'my dear son, the Prince of Wales' in 
unwonted accents of affection. 

But the really personal note that was to knit his ties with 
the people more and more closely came into his utterances 
with the first Christmas Message in 1932. It had required 
a good deal of persuasion to get him to do anything so un- 
conventional and unprecedented as to address his people 
without some particular public function to justify his * ap- 
pearance/ But he finally agreed, and the necessary instal- 
lations were made in his favorite palace of Sandringham, 

148 Hello ^America! 

where the royal family spent its holidays. Sitting in one 
of the smaller rooms of that immense country residence a 
room chosen by the engineers as being the most convenient 
for the purpose he allowed himself to be instructed in the 
intimate art of the microphone. Settling himself down at 
the desk all he wanted was to be * comfortable* in his 
chair he obediently read a few lines of his talk by way of 
voice test, as indeed he did on every similar occasion after 
that. The broadcasting official who remained with him (no 
one else being present) explained the electric light signals 
that had been arranged, and when the red light came on he 
conscientiously started the speech, which so far as it is pos- 
sible to ascertain he had written virtually alone, and which 
as always he was anxious to hide until he had deliv- 
ered it. 

'I take it as a good omen/ he began prophetically, 'that 
wireless should have reached its present perfection at a time 
when the Empire has been linked in closer union, for it offers 
us immense possibilities to make that union closer still/ He 
then spoke of the great purpose in hand ' to regain pros- 
perity without self-seeking and to carry with us those whom 
the burden of past years has disheartened or overborne/ 
None of his previous speeches had been so full of sincere 
solicitude, nor so intimate (the royal 'we* had been aban- 
doned long ago). The Very ordinary fellow* felt that at last 
he was talking not to bigwigs but to 'just ordinary fellows/ 
like himself. And he didn't mind revealing his inmost 

1 1 speak now from my own home and from my heart to 
you all; to men and women so cut off by the snows, the des- 
ert, or the sea that only voices out of the air can reach them; 
to those cut' off from fuller life by blindness, sickness, or 
infirmity, and to those who are celebrating this day with 
their children and their grandchildren to all, to each, I 
wish a happy Christmas/ 

The Christmas Message, which by virtue of the newly 
inaugurated Empire station of the B.B.C. had been heard 
in all parts of the Empire, was an overwhelming success. 
Thousands upon thousands of messages were received from 

Kingdoms for Old 149 

all over the world. Yet it took even more persuasion than 
before to make the King repeat it the following year. The 
resourceful young men at the B.B.C. had to think up some- 
thing new. So for Christmas, 1933, they ' built' the most 
elaborate intercontinental program that had ever been at- 
tempted. It was called ' Absent Friends/ and it consisted 
of a chain of messages which girdled the world, by means 
of the various short-wave 'beam' services established be- 
tween the different parts of the British Empire. London 
would begin by calling Dublin; Dublin would reply, ending 
with a Christmas wish, and would then call Bermuda. 
Bermuda would repeat the process, with variations, and 
so on through Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, 
South Africa, and back to England, where a Voice would 
pass all the Empire's wishes on to the King. Who could 
resist the temptation to reply to such an elaborate homage? 
When King George finally spoke again from Sandringham, 
to be heard by the whole Empire and indeed most of the 
world, emotion was audible in his voice. 

The response was such that, as a matter of course, the 
Christmas Message became an annual event. So twice more 
in his lifetime George V was able to speak to his peoples 
direct. 'I should like to think,' he said in 1934, 'that you 
who are listening to me, in whatever part of the world you 
may be ... are bound to me and to one another by the spirit 
of one great family. . . . May I add very simply and sincerely 
that if I may be regarded as in some true sense the head 
of this great and widespread family, sharing its life and sus- 
tained by its affection, this will be a full reward for the long 
and sometimes anxious labors of my reign of well-nigh five 
and twenty years.' And this led up to his Jubilee Messages 
a few months later, which in their genuine feeling and over- 
flowing gratitude stand alone in the utterances of kings and 

'At the close of this memorable day I must speak to my 
people everywhere,' he began his first Jubilee broadcast from 
Buckingham Palace. 'Yet how can I express what is in my 
heart? As I passed this morning through cheering multi- 
tudes, ... as I thought of all that these twenty-five years 

150 Hello ^America! 

have brought to me and to my country and my Empire, how 
could I fail to be most deeply moved? Words cannot express 
my thoughts and feelings. I can only say to you, my very 
dear people, that the Queen and I thank you from the depths 
of our hearts for all the loyalty and may I say? the love 
with which this day and always you have surrounded us/ 
It was at this point that his heart overflowed and the 'ordi- 
nary fellow* spoke to the Archbishop as above. 

He never forgot the children, and in this Jubilee Message 
he said: 'To the children I should like to send a special mes- 
sage. Let me say this to each of them whom my words may 
reach: The King is speaking to you. I ask you to remember 
that in days to come you will be the citizens of a great em- 
pire. As you grow up always keep this thought before you; 
and when the time comes be ready and proud to give to your 
country the service of your work, your mind, and your heart/ 

It was perhaps his longest speech; yet the last one, within 
a month of his death, was the most moving of all, because 
there was in it an unmistakable premonition of the end. He 
had now arrived at complete freedom of communion with 
the great Unseen Family of which he felt himself a part 
an 'ordinary fellow* among millions of his kind. That was 
the new kingdom he had built for himself. 

' My words will be very simple, but spoken from the heart, 
this family festival of Christmas/ he began. 'How could 
I fail to notice in all the rejoicings not merely respect for the 
Throne, but a warm and generous remembrance of the man 
himself who, may God help him, has been placed upon it?' 
This was indubitably his very own speech no official 
scrivener would have dared to prescribe these self-revealing 
words. And this time, too, he thought ' not so much of the 
Empire itself as of the individual men, women and children 
who live within it/ as for the last time he sent his 'truest 
Christmas wishes and those of my dear wife, my children 
and grandchildren who are with me today/ 

It had been the climax of the most magnificent and truly 
moving demonstration of unity of spirit that science and 
showmanship had ever made possible. Every nation of the 
Empire contributed its share individual messages from 

Kingdoms for Old 151 

grown-ups and children, from men in cities and in lonely 
places, men and women at the farthest corners of the earth 
projecting their thoughts to one point, to be flung out again 
for millions everywhere to hear. Then the National Anthem 
was sung by unseen choirs invisible to each other because 
stationed thousands of miles apart but all melting into 
one and to be heard by all. And then the quiet voice of the 
King, an old man mellowed by life and at peace with his 
God, saying words so simple and moving that every child 
could feel their weight. No wonder men everywhere wiped 
tears from their eyes and for a brief hour felt that the world 
after all held better things things of which one had de- 
spaired. Be that as it may, a new kind of kingship was born 
or a very old one revived a conception of majesty fused 
with paternity, in a world of human beings that are very 
much alike. 

Personally there was nothing so distinctive about King 
George as his simplicity and his humanness. A gray-bearded 
man well below average height, none too robust, with an 
expression that betrayed no profound preoccupations or 
speculations, and eyes that suggested a rather grumpy kind- 
liness and a quiet sense of humor. He was meticulously at- 
tired, but always in the unfashionable yet rather dressy 
style that he had adopted long ago the Prince Albert 
coat, the four-in-hand tie drawn through a signet ring, the 
white carnation in his buttonhole. 

Thus attired he came to the World Economic Conference 
of 1932 to deliver the speech addressed to all the peoples 
of the world and heard by most of them, for short-wave 
voice communication by then was girdling the earth. For all 
his sixty-eight years he stepped briskly to the raised plat- 
form, flanked by his Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald 
and M. Avenol, the Secretary-General of the League of 
Nations. The representatives of sixty nations stood, while 
he delivered his speech from a manuscript before him in a 
clear, resonant, well-modulated voice. He bowed to them 
with a comic little bow before he began; he bowed again at 
the end, and walked off as briskly as he had come. It was a 
set ceremony, allowing for no emotional display, yet a touch 

152. Hello ^America! 

of the quaint dignity of the little man was somehow touch- 
ing. Here was a king, not by any quality of superiority but 
because he represented the average man a man who as 
any man of good average attributes could and did grow into 
and beyond his job. A sympathetic figure, a gentle man, 
not merely a 'gentleman/ 

He had the simple delicacies of the ordinary well-bred 
citizen. An official who usually supervised his broadcasts and 
saw to his comfort on those occasions would be allowed to 
sit and chat with him before and after to pass the time 
of day and talk about the current events. On one of those 
occasions the King proffered what looked like a cigarette 
case, but didn't open it. The official didn't know what to 
do smoking wasn't the 'done thing' at these times. The 
King proffered it again, and when again nothing happened, 
a third time, probably enjoying an inward laugh. Finally he 
explained the mystery: 'I want to give you my personal 
Order, because you've always looked after me so well.' It 
was the Victorian Order a much-coveted distinction, given 
as you would give a boutonniere out of your garden to a 

That, so far as I know, was his only 'personal' recognition 
- except for the more or less official knighthoods of the 
great new force that had given royalty a new function and 
possibly a fresh lease of life. 

The new kingdom that George V had created for himself 
to use a trite but nevertheless fitting phrase in the 
people's hearts, had every prospect of being held by his suc- 
cessor, the first royal broadcaster in the world. But Fate 
decreed otherwise: the most potent medium of communica- 
tion between a ruler and his subjects was to be all but barred 
from the next in line, namely George VI. An early malady 
had impaired the new monarch's speech, and much of his 
life had been spent in overcoming a difficulty which imposed 
a degree of reticence unusual even for an Englishman. Yet 
George VI as prince had with great fortitude fulfilled his 
formal duties, and his voice had been broadcast a number of 
times in connection with public functions of one kind or 

Kingdoms for Old 153 

What he did on the evening of his coronation, however - 
but a short time after his brother's amazing Farewell was 
nothing short of heroism. Sitting at a microphone in Buck- 
ingham Palace, fatigued by the ceremonial ordeals of the day, 
he addressed the waiting millions in England and overseas, 
many of whom must have listened with trepidation in their 
hearts, for ten minutes or so, carefully pronouncing each word 
and overcoming each obstacle by sheer mental effort, with 
the psychological aids by which he had learned to conquer 
emotional stress. Millions heaved a grateful sigh of relief 
when it was over; and it is not likely that this astonishing 
performance will be repeated except on exceptional occasions. 
The Christmas message of 1938, though brief, was a flawless 

The personalities of George and his consort are being pro- 
jected to his peoples by every possible means of publicity, 
and by subtle comparison with his father, whom he resem- 
bles in many ways. Will he, a virtually silent king, be able 
to retain what his father created by means of a voice? 


Curious as it may seem, no other European monarchs 
have made any extensive use of the radio, and certainly not 
with a conscious purpose of cultivating a new relationship 
with their peoples. There are eleven kingdoms left in Eu- 
rope in place of the pre-war seventeen (not counting the 
petty states of the old federal Germany). There is also 
Hungary, a titular kingdom but not likely soon to have a 
king, and the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg. All of the remain- 
ing rulers are constitutional monarchs, although a kind of 
semi-absolutism, or quasi-royal dictatorship, has raised its 
head in the Balkan countries. The only real dictator-king, 
Alexander of Yugoslavia, fell victim to political assassina- 
tion, leaving a regency in his place. It is a mere coincidence, 
perhaps, that broadcasting is all but non-existent in the 

154 Hello ^-America! 

Balkans, except for Rumania. Neither King Carol nor 
King Boris, so far as I know, has yet been lured to the radio. 

Nor has the King of Italy ever been heard by his subjects, 
except for the one time (1934) that the conventional reading 
of the speech from the throne was broadcast from the Cham- 
ber of Deputies, although Mussolini has allowed the Crown 
Prince to help raise enthusiasm for the Abyssinian adven- 
ture. There is an old joke about poor King Victor Emman- 
uel's saying that his handkerchief is the only thing he is 
allowed to put his nose into, and there seems to be no excep- 
tion in favor of the microphone. 

That narrows our inquiry down to the 'democratic* mon- 
archies of the North and West. If none of the three Scandi- 
navian kings has made much use of the radio, it is probably 
because there is not much need for it. These three are the 
most democratic countries in Europe, accepting the monar- 
chial form as a symbol and safeguard of their independence 
as a part of the mechanics of government: the King being 
little more than a royal hat-peg for outgoing and incoming 
prime ministers. Their thrones are safe, not despite but 
because of their lack of power; too much self-assertion on 
their part would only be likely to raise distrust. As it is, an 
unobtrusive monarch on the throne is worth more than the 
loudest dictator beside it. In Scandinavia the Crown would 
almost certainly become the rallying-cry of the democrats 
against any threat of a Fascist surge. 

A concession to nationalism, the King is on a par with the 
national flag, and just as the flags of the Scandinavian coun- 
tries have the same design, varying only in color, so their 
Kings are made of very much the same stuff (two of them 
are brothers), and vary only in name. When they do speak 
to the people, it is not so much to identify themselves with 
their subjects as to identify the three countries with one 
another, in the peaceful policy which has kept them out of 
the European turmoil and their kings on the throne. 

This was the underlying motive of one of the most remark- 
able transmissions that have taken place since the beginning 
of radio, namely the joint broadcast of the three Scandina- 
vian Kings and the President of Finland, to assert the com- 

Kingdoms for Old 155 

mon interests and proclaim the unified policy of all the 
countries of Scandinavia. The broadcast was simultaneously 
radiated throughout the four countries, was listened to in 
many parts of Europe, and was rebroadcast in the United 
States by the two largest networks. Coming when it did, in 
October, 1936, this combined Nordic declaration was a 
counterblast to the aggressively nationalistic and autarch- 
ical policies of other European countries, as well as an 
answer to the pretensions of pseudo-Nordics further south. 

Sitting in his sprawling palace overlooking the harbor of 
Stockholm, lanky, seventy-eight-year-old Gustaf V, in whose 
veins the blood of Napoleon's General Bernadotte is mixed 
with that of the redoubtable Vasas of medieval Swedish 
history, affirmed that the solidarity of the North is a vital 
condition for its future happiness. 'In their common an- 
cestry and language and their similar outlook on life and 
culture, the Nordic peoples belong together/ 

In any other country of Europe such language used by 
the head of the State would signify an aggressive boast, and 
a militant warning of irredentist claims to come. In these 
happier northern lands it meant just the opposite; it meant 
a prospect for peaceful economic union and political collab- 
oration. 'Our governments deliberate the same questions/ 
announced King Gustaf, 'and solve legislative problems to- 
gether; social and industrial groups with practical or ideal- 
istic aims co-operate with corresponding groups of the sister 
nations' the very essence of that internationalism so 
detested and feared by governments claiming a divine mis- 
sion to order the welfare of their peoples! Echoing these 
sentiments, King Christian X, sixty-six years old and every 
inch a soldier, called for even stronger co-operation in the 
future. His slightly younger brother, Haakon V of Norway, 
expressed the wish that the hitherto largely cultural collab- 
oration of the Scandinavian peoples be now extended to the 
economic field. 

Significant, too, was the inclusion of the Finnish republic 
in this manifestation. Its President, Professor Svinhufvud, 
in accordance with his age, spoke in second place, a recogni- 
tion of the equality of status between kings and presidents. 

156 Hello America! 

He spoke of the Scandinavian co-operation 'in defense of 
the common peace and neutrality of the North . . . which is 
of double importance in these turbulent times' words of 
prophecy and warning to Europe as a whole. The founda- 
tions of Scandinavian neutrality were laid under the shadow 
of the World War at the famous Malmo Conference of the 
three Kings in 1914; now Finland, having gained her inde- 
pendence, has joined the pact, and it was a sign of the times 
that the second northern 'conference* took place not in 
Malmo but in the air a reaffirmation of common interest 
in the hearing of the entire world. 

For the sake of completeness let me mention that the first 
time in 1933 that King Christian of Denmark (and 
Iceland) was heard by radio he spoke to the United States. 
Invited to address Dano-Americans, he spoke from his Castle 
of Amalienborg, in a program of Danish music and poetry 
arranged by Statsradiofonien at my request. 


The late King of the Belgians, Albert I, perhaps the most 
familiarly democratic of modern monarchs, made no con- 
scious effort to capture public sympathies by way of the 
new medium, which indeed had its very first tryout in his 
little country before the War. Albert was, it is true, in no 
need of popularity after the experiences of that war; a more 
sympathetic figure could hardly be found among the hered- 
itary rulers of the war-torn Continent. Albert was, more- 
over, intimately known to masses of the common people, 
whose ordinary pleasures he shared. No lover of pomp, cere- 
mony, and ostentation, he could be seen chugging along 
roads of his country on a motorcycle, unattended, or clam- 
bering up the modest mountain sides of his favorite Ardennes. 
It was on one of these lonely climbs that he lost his life in 
February, 1934. Any ambition to claim for himself more 
than the ordinary man's stint of comradeship or popular 

Kingdoms for Old 157 

affection was foreign to his shy and hesitant nature. If his 
advisers refrained from urging him, it was probably because 
they realized that after the War, when Flemish nationalism 
had become very sensitive, any speech that was not made 
or repeated in Flemish would only detract from the pleas- 
ant fiction that Albert was a representative national Belgian 
monarch. (Albert's son has the advantage of his father in 
this respect, for he speaks French and Flemish equally well.) 

It therefore required an outside initiative to bring about 
a broadcast by King Albert. Both the leading American 
companies laid siege to the Belgian authorities, with the 
benevolent acquiescence of the American Embassy, my own 
efforts having begun in the summer of 1930. It took two 
years for the project to mature. At last the Belgian Broad- 
casting Institute prevailed upon the King to speak for five 
minutes in a special program for America on the Belgian 
Independence Day (Fete Nationale, July 21), consisting of 
music by Belgian composers, both Flemish and Walloon, 
and songs in both national languages. The King's language 
problem was solved by the fact that he spoke excellent 
English. In simple words he talked about his little country 
and its gratitude to the American people who fed its popu- 
lation during the War. It was this genuine feeling which at 
last persuaded gallant Albert to speak to a foreign audience. 

On the evening of the National Festival, microphone and 
the usual gear had been installed at the summer palace of 
Laeken, and the Director-General of Belgian broadcasting, 
as well as a very distinguished radio engineer were in attend- 
ance. It was all very simple; the King, in ordinary attire, 
came in and had everything explained to him, while the 
company stood rather stiffly about. He asked how loud 
and how fast he should speak, so the engineer picked up the 
manuscript and began to read the English text in an almost 
unintelligible French pronunciation to demonstrate the vol- 
ume of sound. The King listened attentively. When the 
engineer finished he turned to him with a very faint twinkle 
in his eye. ' Ah, comme fa,' he said, 'et avec le meme accent?' 
(So that's the way! And must I speak with that accent, 

158 Hello ^America! 

Everybody laughed, and all stiffness had gone. The King, 
however, was so nervous that his paper shook like the 
proverbial aspen leaf, and he was obviously relieved when 
it was over. It is not likely that it had given the King a 
taste for broadcasting; at any rate, he was never heard again. 
Sixteen months later, when microphones were once again 
installed at Laeken, it was for Albert's funeral. 

King Albert's successor, Leopold III, a gifted and pur- 
poseful young man, has only been heard once when he 
took his oath as sovereign in Parliament, and made an excel- 
lent speech in French and Flemish, without the suggestion 
of a foreign accent. I had the fun of translating that speech 
as he was delivering it, phrase by phrase, for the benefit of 
American listeners, but unknown to the King, for I was 
sitting in a London studio, listening on earphones to the 
incoming telephone circuit from Brussels and speaking into 
a microphone connected to the transatlantic radio circuit 
carrying his voice to New York. In other words, the transla- 
tion was being filtered into the speech, using the natural 
intervals between phrases that every deliberate speaker 
makes. (This, by the way, was one of the rare occasions 
when both rival networks carried my voice, despite compe- 
tition, simply because there was nothing else to do.) 

Tragedy was to overtake the headstrong young monarch 
when a year and a half later his car overturned and his 
beautiful Swedish consort, Astrid, was killed. He has the 
reputation of being rather autocratic in his manner, and 
the world has already had an indication of his active interest 
in international politics. 


His near neighbor, the portly Queen Wilhelmina of the 
Netherlands, discovered the radio as a means of reaching 
her distant subjects in the East Indies a few years ago (1931), 
when she sent them Christmas greetings via the short-wave 

Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands discovered the radio as 

a means of reaching her distant East Indian subjects 

Princess Juliana accompanied her mother 

Kingdoms for Old 159 

station in Huizen. Dutchmen at home did not all relish her 
speech to the same extent, for poverty was widespread at 
the time and the Queen was a strong supporter of the de- 
flationist policies of her Prime Minister, Doctor Colijn, a 
very orthodox economist. 1 She was, however, heard again 
on subsequent Christmases and on several occasions of per- 
sonal import to the royal family. In 1934 the twice bereaved 
Queen thanked the Dutch people for their sympathy on the 
death of the Queen Mother and the Prince Consort; two 
years later she announced the betrothal of Princess Juliana, 
and she was again heard, throughout the world, in the 
summer of 1937, when she addressed the Boy Scouts at their 
Jamboree in Amsterdam in excellent English as well as 

Her daughter, Juliana, has since her betrothal and mar- 
riage to Prince Bernard repeatedly addressed her future sub- 
jects by radio; she even made history by choosing this un- 
conventional manner of taking them into her confidence on 
a very personal matter, namely, the prospect of giving birth 
to an heir. 

'I should have been happy to attend all the festivities/ 
she said to the citizens of Amsterdam who had given her 
and the Prince a cordial official welcome after their return 
from abroad; 'but for joyful reasons of health which you 
will all understand and approve I am prevented from 
doing so/ And she was followed by the proud prospective 
father, who also spoke his thanks for the great welcome. 
This undoubtedly was the first time that any person, royal 
or otherwise, has used broadcasting for the announcement 
of a 'happy event/ and it points to the fact that in Holland, 
at any rate, the efficacy of the radio in building up popu- 
larity for the ruling family is well understood. 

1 Queen Wilhelmina's speeches from the throne, at the traditional opening of 
Parliament, by the way, have been broadcast annually since 1932, and have on 
occasion been rebroadcast in America. 



IN ONE of the small talks studios on the third floor of 
London's handsome Broadcasting House, a bronze por- 
trait plaque of Edward VIII adorned an otherwise empty 
wall, ever since, as Prince of Wales, he began coming to these 
studios to speak in aid of good causes. 

It was from here that Edward's voice went forth to the 
largest English-speaking audience which had ever listened to 
a royal heir. It was here and in an even smaller studio at 
the earlier B.B.C. in Savoy Hill rather than in the great 
halls and the ornate public banqueting rooms, that he mas- 
tered the peculiarly friendly manner with which he beguiled 
the millions. It was here that he stirred up sympathy for 
Britain's unemployed, appealed for playing fields for the 
children, exhorted the country to care for its poor and dis- 
tressed. And it was here that he was to introduce himself 
to the Kingdom as its King and to the Empire as its Em- 

The decorations of these rooms proclaim the strenuous 
simplicity of the modernist plain fawn walls of sound- 
absorbing celotex, a false window with cream and brown 
curtains of severe design, soft woollen carpets to harmonize, 
a table and chair for the speaker, two other easy chairs, 
modern diffused lighting, the usual electric clock, thermostat, 
and signal lights over the sound-proof door. A strictly 
'functional' interior, after the radio engineer's heart. Ed- 
ward liked coming to it quietly and simply 'no top-hats, 
no fuss,' as he said for he preferred the businesslike broad- 

\oyal broadcaster Timber One 161 

casting machine to the sumptuous Victorian interiors of the 
royal palaces, where his father had sat when addressing the 
nation in lonely state. 

But his radio experience did not begin at Broadcasting 
House. It started with the very inception of broadcasting in 
England, before there was any B.B.C. Edward VIII was, 
in fact, the first royal broadcaster in the world. And the 
story of his broadcasts is interesting because it reflects with 
remarkable fidelity his extraordinary and, in the end, soul- 
stirring career. 


He was still in his late twenties when broadcasting began. 
In 1922 he had only recently returned from his eventful 
journey to India when, as Chief Scout for Wales, he addressed 
nearly sixty thousand youngsters Boy Scouts and 'Wolf 
Cubs' by radio from St. James's Palace. The idea was 
proposed to him by Lord Baden-Powell. Interested, as 
always, in new and adventurous things, he accepted with 
alacrity. It was a highly experimental and very informal affair. 

The Marconi Company had erected the first London 
station, 2LO, whose aerial was swung along the Strand, 
from Marconi House to Bush House, where it aroused the 
curiosity of passing crowds. Elaborate tests were necessary 
the day before, and the Prince was exceedingly painstaking 
under the supervision of the engineers in adjusting his 
voice to the primitive and rather insensitive carbon granule 
microphone. He entered into the adventure with zest, and his 
brothers, later the Dukes of Gloucester and Kent, who came 
to the Prince's study in York House, were fascinated specta- 
tors. Everybody present felt that this was an historic 
occasion, as indeed it was. 1 

1 I am indebted for these details to Mr. A. E. Burrows, now secretary-general 
of the International Broadcasting Union, who announced the Prince, and whose 
book The Story of Broadcasting, (London, 1934) is dedicated to 'the first royal 

1 62. Hello ^America! 

The Prince did not make another studio broadcast for 
three years. But many of his public speeches at dinners and 
official solemnities were broadcast after 1924, and something 
was happening to him that had not happened to any Prince 
of Wales before: he was becoming genuinely popular not 
so much in high society as with the common people over 
whom he was destined one day to rule. He was, in fact, one 
of the first public men to discover the power of the new 
medium; he became one of the first to master its technique. 
In any future history of broadcasting, the engaging figure of 
Edward VIII must appear as that of an amateur who handled 
the instrument with the skill of the professional. He applied 
to it the free and easy manner of the after-dinner speech, 
eschewed all oratory and high rhetoric, and as time went on 
acquired the intimate and improvisational manner which 
distinguishes the microphone speaker from the ordinary 
speech-maker. Allowing for the difference in temperament 
and nationality, his radio style became effective in much the 
same way as that of Franklin D. Roosevelt. 

His diction differed decidedly from that of the average 
cultured Englishman and reflected the influence of all sorts 
and conditions of people with whom he mixed as a cadet, 
as a midshipman afloat, and in the War. Oxford left no 
impression on his speech; it was too transitory an experience. 
But during the War he talked, day in day out, with common 
soldiers British, Canadians, New Zealanders, cockneys, 
yokels, all sorts for here he shed his shyness and became 
an easy conversationalist. And so his speech became not so 
much the ' King's ' English as the English of the common- 
wealth citizen. 

If Edward was quick to grasp the power of the radio, those 
in charge of his career as national spokesman were not far 
behind. The politicians who had been glad to exploit his 
ability as 'good-will ambassador* and 'empire salesman ' 
now found a new method of widening the radius of his in- 
fluence and they made the most of it. His speeches got 
more and more publicity: after 1930 they were often heard in 
America; soon after, in the whole empire as well. Up to 1933 
he made an average of eight broadcasts a year. Then sud- 

^Broadcaster T^umber One 163 

denly the number dropped to two in 1934 and one in 1935 
for reasons which were then known only to his intimates. 
Many of these speeches were made, of course, on formal occa- 
sions to which the appearance of royalty lends dignity; there 
were bridges to be opened, new public buildings to be dedi- 
cated, ships to be launched. These occasions fall to every 
public man's lot; as often as not the speeches are prepared by 
others. They would hardly be worth mentioning were it not 
for the fact that in the Prince's case one could even here 
detect a personal touch a happy informal phrase that 
betrayed his humanness and a capacity to turn any 
occasion to good account. 


It is at any rate remarkable how few of his speeches were 
merely perfunctory. Like many other things in his career, 
they indicated a certain insistence to decide things for him- 
self, a 'wilfulness' which those in authority were to find so 
inconvenient later on. A post-facto examination of his 
utterances certainly reveal purpose and character, as well as 
a real ability for felicitous expression. Equally illuminating, 
perhaps, would be a list of the speeches he refused to make. 
Through all those post-war years when Allied statesmen and 
generals were unveiling monument after monument and 
spouting eloquently of victory, this young scion of the House 
of Windsor was going about the world speaking of the War 
not in terms of glory but of reconciliation, compassion and 
hope. The War, in fact, became less and less important, and 
its memories receded before the impact of a new emotional 
urge sympathy with the victims, and pity for the poor and 

However cynically sophisticated people might regard 
public demonstrations of charity by royalty, there was, until 
recently, no doubt in the common man's mind that the 
Prince of Wales's preoccupation with the underdog was 

164 Hello ^America! 

genuine, and his efforts to alleviate suffering sincere. It was 
different from the usual salving of the rich man's conscience 
because it had its roots in real experience. The Prince was a 
mere youth when he went, like thousands of other youngsters, 
to satisfy his craving for adventure on the battle-fields of 
France. He was twenty, but both in looks and in character 
he was nearer eighteen. His eagerness to be 'in it* was 
probably that of any average youngster, and he gave those 
who were responsible for his safety some sleepless nights. 

On one of his private excursions during the battle of Loos 
he motored into a village near the front, left his car to go up 
to the lines for a few minutes, and came back to find both car 
and chauffeur blown to bits. The chauffeur was almost a pal; 
he had been his servant at college in Oxford. The Prince 
picked up the remnants of the man's belongings, carried them 
back to headquarters tied in a handkerchief, kept them, and 
on his next trip home restored them personally to the 
chauffeur's family. 

In the same year 1916 and probably with this tragic 
incident in mind, he started a fund for the relief of the families 
of those killed in action. By reason of his title he had already 
acted as chairman of the first committee under the War 
Pensions Act; and from the beginning had come to realize 
that State aid would not suffice. 'Our special duties will be/ 
he said to the committee, ' to initiate schemes for training and 
of finding active employment, and thus enable the men to feel 
that they are still active members of the community.' 

When he returned home at the end of the War, and the 
mad whirl of his first empire tour was over, he had plenty of 
opportunity to see what was happening to the men who 
fought for the 'war to end war' and had come back to a 
country 'fit for heroes to live in.' He had become patron of 
the British Legion and he had heard the stories of the men. 
In a broadcast appeal for the British Legion Fund (there are 
no soldiers' 'bonuses' in Great Britain) he said: 

'It is not only of those who laid down their lives that we 
must think; we must never forget, at any time, both their 
dependents and those others who, without losing life, lost 
health and strength in the great struggle. There can surely 

G I(pyal ^Broadcaster T^umber One 165 

be no more sincere act of remembrance of the dead than an 
act of service to those of their comrades who are today in 

The word 'remembrance* had a special significance. At 
Christmas time during the second year of the War, two 
English clergymen founded a soldiers' club behind the lines 
at Poperinghe, in Flanders. One of the two was the Reverend 
Neville Talbot, whom the Prince had known at Oxford, and 
the name of the club became 'Toe H,' the Morse version of 
Talbot's initials. The Prince's division came into the Pope- 
ringhe sector in 1916, and ever since then he has been identi- 
fied with the movement which from a private work of two 
kindly men, without funds, has largely through the Prince's 
efforts become nation-wide, with clubs throughout the 
country and in many parts of the Empire. 

The movement is based on the idea of fellowship, and its 
symbol is the lighted lamp. It caught the imagination of 
England's young men. Every Armistice Day there are Toe 
H 'festivals of remembrance' all over the country. In Lon- 
don, where thousands gather in Albert Hall, the leader of 
every new branch gets his lamp lighted from a central light 
which year after year was held by the Prince of Wales. The 
Festival of Remembrance was first broadcast from the 
Albert Hall in 1927, and the Prince made a speech that 
changed the meaning and tenor of Armistice Day celebra- 
tions throughout the Empire. 

'This Armistice Day,' he said, 'was once a day of rejoicing. 
It is now a day of remembrance. The full sum of that remem- 
brance not I nor anyone can express in words. ... In the 
actual day of battle, every man who fought by our side was 
our comrade and our friend. For nine difficult years we have 
endured the inevitable consequences of war, and whether he 
who fought by our side has fared better or worse than our- 
selves, or whatever his luck may be, he is no less our comrade 
and friend today.' 

The Festival of Remembrance broadcast has become one of 
the great occasions for reverent listening throughout England 
and the Empire. The Prince, when he has not spoken words 
of his own, has recited Laurence Binyon's verses, 'To the 

1 66 Hello ^America! 

Fallen/ with deeply moving effect. They begin like this: 

'They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old, 
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn, 
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, 
We will remember them.' 

On November n, 1936, he read them for the last time in 
that great assembly, but this time they were not broadcast. 
In 1937 he was no longer there. 

But his presence at these gatherings, year after year, had 
created a faith semi-religious, semi-chivalrous among 
the war veterans and the millions whom the War had robbed 
of all that was nearest and dearest to them a faith that will 
not die while this generation lives. These people, whatever 
else they may think about Edward, have no doubt that what 
he said he meant. 


Outside that charmed circle there has been a rising tide of 
skepticism and resentment. More and more frequently the 
question has been asked whether the great human note in the 
Prince's career was not just part of a policy adjusted to the 
needs of the time, was in any case induced by outside sug- 
gestions of a more or less specious kind. The question has, 
I think, been most convincingly answered by a dramatic 
incident related to in Hector Bolitho's recent biography, 
Edward VIII. It took place, not many years after the War, 
in the poor section of a northern English industrial town, 
where the Prince came face to face with stark misery and 
destitution, such as he had never seen before. 

After a day of depressing experiences he was taken to a soup 
kitchen, and there, at close quarters, he saw how hundreds of 
hungry men were fed. He watched silently, spellbound by 
what he saw. Then, pointing to a young man standing in line 
he said to his companion, in a shocked whisper, 'That man 

\oyal ^Broadcaster Dumber One 167 

has no shirt under his coat!' Later that night, returned to 
his quarters, he was seen alone, walking up and down in great 
agitation, pressing his hands together and saying, 'What can 
I do? What can be done?' 

That, in his biographer's words, was the real awakening of 
the Prince's social conscience, although the suffering he had 
seen in Flanders and in the hospitals and homes for crippled 
veterans had already mobilized his sense of compassion. Now 
he discovered that 'sympathy is not enough'; so instead of 
merely acting as the patron of a great charity, the Lord 
Mayor's Fund for distressed miners, he also insisted on going 
to the mining areas 'to see for himself.' He mixed with the 
people, talked to the men, asked questions, and tried to find 
answers to their problems with the help of expert advisers. 
More than that, he saw how the families lived, on the edge of 
starvation, spoke to the children, comforted the wives. On 
one occasion he asked a man about his wife and heard that 
she was in the throes of death in the tiny bedroom upstairs. 
' If you would hold her hand for a minute, sir, I think she 
would never forget it,' said the man. Edward went up and 
held the emaciated hand till a contented, almost happy 
look came into the sick woman's eyes. There were many 
incidents like that. 

All this was in 1928 eight years before that fateful trip 
to South Wales which was to be his last. Henceforth a new 
direction was given to his broadcasting career. 

Only twice before had he gone to the old B.B.C. studios to 
make his charitable appeals; this time, with a cause he had 
made peculiarly his own, he went to Savoy Hill on Christmas 
night, to speak as he had never spoken before. The British 
miners' leader at that time was Arthur Cook, a tough fighter 
whose name was anathema to the upper classes and who had 
led the bitterest strike in British history two years before. 
'Never have I been so impressed,' said this doughty revolu- 
tionary years afterwards, addressing the Prince at a public 
gathering. 'I was with two Communist friends, and when 
your name was announced . . . they undoubtedly scoffed. 
But they listened to what you had to say, and when you 
finished, with tears in their eyes, they put their hands in their 
pockets and gave what they had on them to the fund/ 

1 68 Hello ^America! 


The miners of Wales and Durham are Britain's permanent 
post-war calamity; but soon their tragedy was to spread its 
shadow over the whole land. Depression, starting in America 
in 1929, reached England in full force the following year: 
unemployment rose to three millions, and a quarter of the 
working population was idle for years. Under the stress 
of this crisis, social service among the unemployed became 
Edward's chief concern. To alleviate distress not only by 
raising funds, but by organizing a Voluntary Service move- 
ment which would save the out-of-work's self-respect and 
keep him from becoming a human derelict, he gave unspar- 
ingly of his time and energy, becoming more than ever the 
acknowledged champion of the underdog. No royal heir 
in British history had ever done anything like it before. 

Broadcasting came to his aid. The B.B.C., to help the 
movement, put on a series of talks entitled 'S. O. S.' by a 
nationally popular broadcaster, S. P. B. Mais, and the Prince 
went to 'his' studio in Broadcasting House to launch the 
series with an eloquent appeal. There were, of course, many 
difficulties. In the midst of the Depression in January, 
1932 he made a now historic appeal for a reform of the 
movement by 'splitting it up into small parts,' so that it 
could relieve enforced idleness in villages and poor neighbor- 
hoods by co-operative action. This remarkable speech, made 
before a huge audience in Albert Hall and broadcast to the 
nation, contained passages that are akin in spirit to those 
uttered by another famous broadcaster raising his voice a 
year or so later on behalf of the Forgotten Man in the United 

'There is/ he said, 'a certain doubt whether the social 
progress of recent years has not, perhaps, been rather super- 
ficial a feeling that, just as many a fine-looking house may 
conceal a load of hire-purchase debt, so the better material 
conditions that have been won may not represent a very 
solid gain There is an enormous call at the present time 

"Broadcaster Dumber One 169 

for personal service The tasks are there, and every one of 

us can play a part, for the race is not necessarily to the swift 
nor the battle to the strong!' 

That speech had the force of religious revivalism in it, and 
the result was a nation-wide activity which went far toward 
lifting the 'other half out of the slough of despond into 
which it had been thrust. The Prince himself travelled up and 
down the country, giving the lead to workers in many locali- 
ties, mixing with the people as one of them and spreading 
good cheer. At the end of two years he was able to ' report * 
to the country in another speech one of the last important 
utterances of his that were heard in America as well as in 
England. Two thousand occupational centres had been or- 
ganized, over a quarter million pounds had been subscribed, 
$150,000 by the unemployed themselves in pennies and tup- 
pences; clubs and camps had been set up and a new fabric of 
social life had taken root, bringing sunshine into the lowliest 
circles of the land. That new fabric is the Duke of Windsor's 
living monument in the land he was born to rule. 

The fellowship idea ran like a leit-motif through all his 
activities. He was the Prince of good mixers, and that saved 
his social work from the by-taste of condescension. He had 
seen these men in the trenches in France; he saw them now 
with their families crowded into wretched hovels and tene- 
ments that passed for homes. Like no other social worker of 
his time, he could compare the utmost luxury with the ut- 
most squalor, and while with the gilded youth of his genera- 
tion he partook of the giddiest social whirl, he didn't shrink 
from the squalor when he saw it. 'We stand and talk,' said 
George Lansbury, a Socialist leader who all his life has lived 
in London's East End; 'he goes into the houses.' 

Housing became a particular fetish with him. With the 
impatience of youth he wanted to sweep away the slums, and 
inevitably found many obstacles in his way. But, as with 
other things, he sought expert knowledge (a sort of brain 
trust had grown up about the Prince's staff) and then he 
brought his revivalist's methods to bear on the problem. He 
harangued the architects to devote themselves to the prob- 
lem of mass production in housing; to build for the many 

170 Hello ^America! 

instead of the ' favored few.' He promoted the fund to build 
homes near the big towns for ex-soldiers in memory of Mar- 
shal Haig. When he opened the first London group of 
one hundred and twenty-three houses, his words once again 
were broadcast and new support enlisted. 

The practical results of his broadcast appeals for these 
movements was, of course, immeasurable; the returns to 
charity, in cold cash alone, must have been tremendous. Nor 
could the Government of the ruling classes quarrel with him, 
for his activities raised the morale of the unemployed, and 
eased the constant pressure for more doles; it gave new 
hope to the sorely tried working classes and the disillusioned 
ex-service man. On the other hand, the cause of the dis- 
inherited part of the nation became almost an obsession with 
the Prince, and must have been unwelcome to the 'hard- 
boiled' industrialist by focussing too much attention on bad 
working conditions, wretched housing and the like. 

He visited area after area in the most depressed sections of 
the country in Durham, in Scotland, in Wales and his 
words after a thorough investigation of actual conditions 
contrasted sometimes inconveniently with the complacent 
remarks of parliamentarians. Before each visit he would 
prepare himself by study and consult people with special 
knowledge of the subject. He would address proud mayors 
and self-satisfied citizens and tell them always to look for- 
ward to the 'great occasion when the whole country is clear 
of slums.' He would have awkward impulses to vary official 
programs by insisting on seeing the seamy side. When his 
speech opening the new Severn Bridge was broadcast in 1932 
he calmly announced that there was one place he would visit 
that was not on the program the centre for the unem- 
ployed. When he was taken to see the great ship Queen Mary 
just before she left her Tyneside berth, he told his top-hatted 
reception committee that he also wanted to see the Glasgow 
slums said to be some of the worst in the world. And when 
he had seen them he asked how a civilization that could 
produce this great ship could tolerate such squalor. 

al broadcaster Dumber One 171 


Another phase of what Basil Maine x calls the Prince's 
'crusade' was his drive for more modern methods in industry 
and commerce, which got world-wide publicity and ap- 
plause, and earned him the epithet the 'Empire's chief 
salesman.' Indeed, the commercial Pooh-Bahs had every 
reason to be delighted with some of the results of his crusade. 
When he launched the 'Buy British' campaign, or when, 
during his trip to South America, the city of Buenos Aires 
signed a British contract for the materials of a $50,000,000 
underground railroad, they applauded, and took a little 
advice into the bargain. When in the hearing of the entire 
country he told the cream of the British business world at 
the British Industries Fair dinner in London that they must 
learn to 'adopt, adapt, and improve,' a great chorus of 
bravos went up in the press, while the Prince was being 
quoted and toasted in the clubs. They even put up with his 
flattering references to the methods of American business! 

But when he took his job too seriously and told the as- 
sembled sales managers of Great Britain that 'all is not well 
with our salesmanship,' they applauded with less enthusiasm, 
and some members of the older generation certainly felt the 
sting when he asked: 'Has Britain taken any steps to make 
good the promise of the men who would today be organizing 
business but for the fact that they are lying beneath the sod 
of many countries?' 

Whooping up business was all very well, but this was a 
different note, which didn't fit into the go-getter's tune. For 
the thought of the ' comrades ' the Prince met in France, the 
chaps who first made him come out of his shell, was never 
very far from his mind. The big manufacturers and manag- 
ing directors were being lectured not merely for their own 
good . . . 

When the whole story of Edward's estrangement from his 
countrymen comes to be written, this feature of his develop- 

1 Basil Maine, Our Ambassador King, London, 1936. , 

1 7 2. Hello ^America! 

ment must not be overlooked. At any rate, it is a fact that 
after 1931 he dropped the role of business counselor, and, 
except for his favorite charities, confined himself to that of 
good- will ambassador. His 'Americanism/ moreover, was 
rinding an outlet in a more private and social sphere 

Most of the Prince's broadcast speeches, beginning with a 
relay of a Clydebank launching in 1930, have been rebroad- 
cast in the United States. No foreign broadcaster, public or 
private, professional or amateur, had the ear of the American 
public as consistently as this perennially youthful and 
attractive 'star/ His famous curtain lecture to the sales 
managers; his gingering-up talk to the British manufacturers; 
his opening of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, with its 
graceful acknowledgment of American generosity; his un- 
veiling of the Somme Memorial in France; his S.O.S. talk on 
unemployment; and finally his appeal for 'voluntary service ' 
in January, 1934, were a few of those that were heard by even 
more American than British listeners. 

Then, suddenly, something happened. After that last 
'voluntary service* talk came a strange silence; he was not 
heard again, except for one routine appeal, until 1936, after 
his father's death, when once again he went to Broadcasting 
House this time to introduce himself to his peoples as King 
and Emperor. Except for one other brief obligatory talk, this 
was his one and only microphone appearance in over two 
years. What had happened in these two years to his public- 
spirited activities? What had become of his ardent pre- 
occupation with social service, with the unemployed? Dis- 
tress in Durham and Wales was still severe; had Edward's 
sympathy waned? 

If it had, the doubters and the skeptics had perhaps been 
right after all; for nothing but a mental aberration or a 
cataclysmic emotional experience could blot out the 
memory of two decades of genuinely vital activity. But we 
now know that a matter of great personal urgency had 
supervened. We know, too, that things happen to people 
which change the whole course and purpose of their lives 
things which shatter the very mainsprings of human volition, 
and turn perfectly rational men and women into psycho- 


B. B. C. 

March, 1936, when for the first time a reigning British king 

came to Broadcasting House to speak 
'Although I now speak to you as the King, I am still the same man . . / 

broadcaster Dumber One 173 

physiological phenomena of the strangest kind. And that 
is the kind of thing that had happened to Edward. He had 
fallen victim to a passion that blotted every other interest out 
of his life. 

Nothing but such an experience could explain the change 
that had come over Britain's favorite son. Report had it that 
during his father's last illness he had got completely out of 
hand, that is, unapproachable by those who had the most 
valid claims of friendship and loyalty. King George's death 
brought to a head a crisis of which only the vaguest reports 
gave an inkling to the outer world. It was nearly two months 
before Edward VIII could be persuaded to declare himself, 
in the hearing of all the world, as a sovereign who intended to 


It was a pleasant though chilly Sunday afternoon in 
March, 1936, when for the first time a reigning British king 
came to Broadcasting House to speak. He arrived in an or- 
dinary motor car unguarded. With his usual brisk step 
and the same nervous, jerky gestures as always, he walked 
into the little studio which had become recognized as his own. 
The speech he made heard by many millions throughout 
the world was short and singularly detached. The only 
significant thing in it was his assurance that ' although I now 
speak to you as the King, I am still the same man . . . ' It 
might have given some people pause. Many others, more- 
over, detected a new and strange note in his voice. The use 
of the phrase 'over the radio' was definitely an Americanism, 
almost unknown in the British Isles; and the short 'Ameri- 
can* a in the word 'broadcast' gave the English purists a 

Outside, on the street, a few hundred people had collected 
to see him off. A handful of policemen good-naturedly 
pushed them back to make a lane for the royal car. The 

174 Hello ^America! 

King bowed, doffed his hat to acknowledge the cheers. No 
one could have guessed that it was for the last time. The 
following July he went to France to unveil the Canadian 
monument at Vimy Ridge; a few days later he was on his way 
to that blissful Adriatic cruise with the woman he loved. 

In the autumn, after his return to England, he suddenly 
bethought himself of his one-time charges, the Welsh miners, 
forgotten these two years or more. Someone had jogged his 
memory, perhaps. But his old advisers official and 
private had not had his ear for months, it was complained, 
though matters of state were crowding in upon him with ever 
increasing urgency. Who, then, persuaded him to make that 
sudden, unprecedented, and according to some 'un- 
constitutional* dash to South Wales, to promise his under- 
nourished friends that 'something will be done'? In other 
circumstances such a trip, by the reigning monarch, might 
have caused Britain's toiling millions to rise to him like one 
man. Was that the purpose behind the trip? If it had 
' worked/ a great national appeal, a new clarion call by radio, 
was the next indicated move. 

But it was not to be. The effort, mildly applauded by the 
Opposition press, raised a vaguely discordant chorus of 
comment. The workers, for some reason, were not impressed. 
The radio remained silent, while Edward waited at Fort 
Belvedere and Mrs. Simpson in her mansion at Regent's 
Park. The 'clarion call' would have fallen on empty air. The 
royal broadcaster remained silent. 


The portrait plaque which adorned the little broadcasting 
studio is gone. 





INFORMATION, instruction, and entertainment are ac- 
knowledged to be the principal functions of radio; but 
the greatest of these, by common consent, is entertainment. 
This at once sums up radio's similarity to journalism, and 
a vital difference between the two. 

The newspaper, through centuries of evolution and de- 
velopment, has achieved a certain balance between these 
three main departments, but there is no doubt that here 
information takes precedence over the other two. No merely 
instructive article or entertainment feature would in ordinary 
circumstances replace information; that is, news. In broad- 
casting, however, none but the most urgent or important 
news would even displace temporarily a program designed 
to entertain. This distinction determines the present place 
of broadcasting in the social scheme. It limits its function 
as a carrier of news, the more so since its basis of measure- 
ment is Time, while that of the newspaper is Space. The 
newspaper can expand in size, according to necessity; radio 
is forever bound by the twenty-four hours of the clock. 
It cannot, like the newspaper, add time to its schedule; it 
must defer news until, in some cases, it is no longer news. 

Radio is by far the faster medium, and it has much the 
greater scope; yet it surrenders to the newspaper its right 
of priority in news distribution, except in sensational cases 
when the demand so outruns supply that competition is 
suspended for the time. 

In the field of foreign news the handicap imposed on radio 

178 Hello ^America! 

is even greater, partly by reason of the censorship to which 
most of the world supinely submits, partly because of 
mechanical limitations, and the lack of adequate facilities 
at the present stage of development. Hence international 
broadcasting hitherto has mostly been content to supple- 
ment, rather than originate, the news. Actual news-beats by 
radio are rare and therefore thrilling occurrences, of which 
broadcasters are inordinately proud. 

An early instance of such a beat was the transatlantic 
radio talk by J. Ramsay MacDonald, then British Prime 
Minister, from Chequers, the week-end retreat of British 
premiers, in March, 1930, in which he finally killed France's 
hopes of collective security based on military guarantees. 
This talk was one of the series on the London Naval Con- 
ference, arranged by Frederick William Wile. Another 
momentous pronouncement by radio was that made by 
Henry L. Stimson, the American Secretary of State, from 
London the following month, already noted in Chapter I. 

Great hopes were set on the World Disarmament Con- 
ference of 1932 by broadcasters as well as by the world 
at large. By this time both American companies had per- 
manent representatives in Europe, and there was assembled 
at Geneva a group of six radio people representing the two 
principal American chains. Yet so little real news emerged 
that after five weeks activities were suspended by all. The 
radio commentators competed with each other but not with 
the newspapers, and were content to parade the voices of 
eminent statesmen Tardieu, Simon, Grandi, Benes, Cecil, 
Madariaga, etc. pouring forth more or less wishful 
platitudes. The opening speech of honest 'Uncle Arthur' 
Henderson, an aging, red-faced British ex-workingman, who 
had risen to be foreign minister without ever travelling far 
beyond his favorite Brighton, raised hopes of peace in 
millions of American hearts, but spread boredom among the 
cynical delegates and journalists of the fifty-odd nations 
in the hall of Geneva's Batiment Electoral. 

\adio Cjets the TSfews 179 


A real scoop, however, was scored by radio a fortnight 
later, when Doctor W. W. Yen, the Chinese Foreign Min- 
ister, made his famous indictment of Japan at the ex- 
traordinary session of the League of Nations Assembly to 
adjudicate the Manchurian dispute. Indignation over 
Japan's aggression at the very time when the nations were 
supposed to be trying to outlaw war was such that the 
Disarmament Conference was shouldered out of the lime- 
light for a time. The session opened on March 3 in an at- 
mosphere of tense expectation suffused with almost universal 
hatred of Japan. The assembly room of the old 'Palais 
Wilson* was packed; the press of the entire world was there 
with pencils sharpened to needle-point, when M. Paul Hy- 
mans, Belgian Foreign Minister, opened proceedings at 
4.40 P.M. 

Special significance attaches to the hour, which was con- 
siderably later than that originally scheduled. Never before 
in the history of the League had its proceedings been broad- 
cast, and it was important to consider the time difference 
between the continents. Frederick William Wile, then in 
charge of Columbia's interests at Geneva, had reserved the 
hour of five to six for the transatlantic transmission, and had 
persuaded both Hymans and Yen to delay proceedings so 
that America would lose nothing essential. The elderly 
Doctor Yen, handsome even according to European concep- 
tions and the very personification of dignity, rose, looked at 
the clock, and began to read a sheaf of telegrams about the 
situation in Shanghai. He then asked the translator to re- 
read them in French, while the clock crept up to 5 P.M. and 
past. Wile, in a broadcasting booth near the platform, de- 
scribed the historic scene to the American audience: for the 
first time a great nation was being brought to the bar of a 
world parliament for aggression. Then, for fifty minutes or 
so, grave, Harvard-bred Doctor Yen pilloried Japan in 
impeccable 'American/ piling evidence upon evidence with 

180 Hello ^America! 

relentless logic. Thus, for once, the text of an important 
public document was known to American listeners before it 
could be printed anywhere in the world. 

The further sequence of events, leading from calamity to 
calamity, and one of the greatest human tragedies of history, 
is only too well known to require comment here: that after- 
noon, however, the mantle of virtue hitherto assumed by the 
Japanese Government dropped from them for good and all, 
and their collaboration with the world's civilized nations was 
for the time being at an end. Broadcasting had given 
the world a glimpse of Woodrow Wilson's open diplomacy 
which even its exponent could not have foreseen. 


While the Disarmament Conference at Geneva was still 
news, while republican Germany was swaying to its death, 
perilously poised between the alternatives of restoration and 
Nazism, and I was still in Berlin pondering the mysterious 
words of the Kaiser's confidential Baron (as told in Chapter 
VIII), news reached me of the sudden take-off of Amelia 
Earhart from Floyd Bennett Field near New York on the 
first solo transatlantic flight since Lindbergh's spectacular 
exploit five years before. Fascinating as the stewing of the 
political cauldron was at this time, this daredevil adventure 
at once focussed public attention on an adventure which, 
if successful, would make history of a more cheerful kind. 
Here was an opportunity for the transatlantic radio to catch 
news 'on the wing/ 

When Charles A. Lindbergh made his historic flight in 
1927, radio was still in its infancy and international broad- 
casting played no part in spreading news of the event. 
When four years later Wiley Post and Harold Gatty flew 
from New York to Berlin, the N.B.C. was able to interview 
the fliers on their arrival at Tempelhof Field, and soon such 
transatlantic news-casting was bound to become a common- 

*S(adio fyts the *K[ews 181 

place, whenever the aviator was lucky enough to land where 
he intended to land. But here was a case where the chances 
of disaster were so high that a happy landing would be big 
news. And the human interest element was as great as the 
element of chance. It was as daring an exploit as was ever 
undertaken by a member of the ' weaker* sex. 

As Earhart's announced objective was Paris, I telephoned 
an order for transmission facilities to be installed at Le 
Bourget, took a fast Farman plane, and arrived at the 
French airport after a bumpy ride, only to find that the 
gallant Amelia had been forced down in a remote spot in 
northern Ireland, out of reach of any respectable telephone 
line. Thence she was trying to reach Croydon, the great 
London airport, as soon as her machine could be repaired. 
My resourceful secretary actually got into personal touch 
with her through Londonderry, while I took off again, on a 
dismally foggy morning, from Le Bourget to join a helpful 
friend, Raymond Gram Swing, already keeping watch at 
Croydon. Once again microphones and transmission gear 
were in place. 

Meantime the 'Lady Lindy' had taken off again, not in 
her own damaged plane but that of an enterprising news-reel 
company which had flown to her aid in the hope of getting 
exclusive pictures. We hurriedly made an alliance with the 
newsreelers and were promised co-operation. 

At Croydon the greatest confusion reigned. Newspaper 
reporters, sound-film operators, and a miscellaneous lot of 
official and unofficial welcomers crowded the airport. Our 
engineers were ready; we were in touch with New York; 
American listeners were waiting. But no sign of the heroine. 
A rumor began to buzz that she would come down or be 
set down, since she was no longer her own pilot some- 
where else. We queried the operators of the news-reel com- 
pany which owned the eagerly awaited plane about this; to 
convince us they calmly pointed to their own sound-truck, 
standing there ready to 'shoot/ We had no reason to doubt 
their word; yet the rumor persisted and the Croydon officials 
were at their wits' ends. When the crews of the competitive 
news-reel trucks were getting restive, we began to see light. 

1 8 2. Hello ^America! 

Knowing that the American Ambassador would have to 
receive Miss Earhart officially, we telephoned to the Embas- 
sy, and here an official revealed that the Ambassador had 
left not for Croydon but for Hanworth, a private club air 
field to the northwest of London, where the aviatrix was ex- 
pected to arrive at any moment! Not a newspaper, not an 
official knew this; in fact not even Miss Earhart knew it; 
she had, in fact, been temporarily ' kidnapped ' by the clever 
news-reel people, in order to score a beat. 

By a lucky chance we found a top-hatted gentleman who 
was personally commissioned to receive her, with a fast car 
and a good chauffeur. He was in a panic. In return for our 
sensational information he took us aboard and we drove hell- 
for-leather around the outskirts of London, minding no 
speed limits and arriving at the club gates just as Earhart 
was sighted. We found them closed and guarded; the news- 
reel people had done a thorough job. Almost literally crashing 
the gate, we ran onto the field as the plane appeared in the 
west, against the rays of the setting sun. The Ambassador's 
car was waiting in front of the clubhouse, ready to rush the 
distinguished lady in her flying kit to a 'welcome dinner' 
at the Embassy, for it was getting near to eight o'clock. But 
the Ambassador, old Andrew Mellon, was a radio-minded 
man, having permitted his almost inaudible dulcet voice to 
be transmitted across the Atlantic on various patriotic 
occasions. I told him that for once Broadcasting House 
would have to take precedence over the American Embassy, 
and that listeners throughout the length and breadth of the 
United States were all agog to hear the 'Lady LindyV voice. 

The aged Ambassador submitted meekly, and his chauffeur 
drove us to town in the Embassy car. So for the second time 
that day the intrepid lady was kidnapped this time to 
make a radio fans' holiday. 

The diplomatic flag helped us to make speed, and we 
reached Broadcasting House by eight o'clock four hours 
later than the scheduled broadcast. All day long the wires 
had hummed between London and New York, as the arrival 
was postponed and postponed. But no amount of engineer- 
ing magic would have made it possible to set up facilities at 

Broadcasting House opened its portals to receive Amelia 
Earhart, heroine of the year, and let her speak to America 

\adto (jets the TS[ews 183 

Hanworth in time for the arrival; all our beautiful equipment 
in Croydon had to be sent home, as had been done at Le 
Bourget the day before an illustration of the hurdles 
radio must take in order to get real news. 

As it happened, the delay with frequent bulletins issued 
to listeners through the day increased the tension and 
made the broadcast more valuable. It was a Sunday, too, 
and many millions of people must have been listening in 
their homes. Only once before had the Atlantic been flown 
solo, and never had anything comparable been accomplished 
by a woman. It was a chance for the eagle-hens to scream. 

The bareheaded 'Lady Lindy' in her breeches and leather 
blouse was cool and self-possessed. Boyish, yet graceful in 
her movements, she fairly jumped out of the car and into 
the lift. Her resemblance to Colonel Lindbergh was arrest- 
ing. The slender figure, the long, rather rugged face with the 
deep-set, poetic eyes, the large, full-lipped mouth, and the 
tousled crop of blond curls made her as engaging a figure as 
I have ever seen. 

Owing to the news-reel company's 'hoax' there wasn't 
a soul to receive us, not a newspaper person in sight. Broad- 
casting House, being all but asleep on Sunday, opened its 
portals to receive the heroine of the year, let her speak to 
America but no one even thought of seizing the chance 
for British listeners. x 

The experience of interviewing her at the microphone gave 
me one of my real thrills. She answered impromptu questions 
simply and without hesitation, told of her difficulties with 
the engine manifold, the leak in her petrol gauge, the failure 
of the altimeter, the ice forming on her wings, her flying 
'by trial and error' all night, and hitting Ireland by guess. 
'I realize that this flight means nothing to aviation,' she 
said. ' Such crossings will become commonplace though 
possibly not solo ones.' 

Earhart's candid modesty, her charm, and the smile 
which lighted up her handsome features were irresistible. 
As I write this the search for her in the watery wastes of the 

1 Two nights later she was persuaded to talk a few minutes in the 'news' broad- 
cast period. Everything in its time is the British motto. 

184 Hello ^America! 

Pacific is still going on but hope is practically abandoned. 
She was of the stuff of which heroes are made. 


There is just one department of news in which broad- 
casting is supreme, and that is sport. By no possible means 
can any other method of reporting beat the c news-caster ' 
when, opposite a goal, or in the grandstand at a football 
game, he gives the result with hardly a second's delay, and 
at the same moment a million fans are in possession of the 
facts. The broadcasting of sporting events has become, 
wherever radio exists, a boon to the stay-at-home. 

Transatlantic broadcasting entered this field as soon as 
short-wave transmission had reached the practical stage. 
The Derby, run on Epsom Downs in June, 1930, was the 
start. Then came the Grand National at Aintree; the 
Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race on the Thames; tennis at 
Wimbledon; and finally St. Andrews and the other battle- 
grounds of championship golf. Tennis and golf presented 
the most difficult problems, because it was obviously im- 
possible to keep a transoceanic channel open for hours. So 
we had to guess, as shrewdly as possible, when the decision 
might come, and reserve ' strategic* quarter-hours on a 
chance. The first time we did this from the Continent was 
for the famous Challenge Round of the Davis Cup matches 
at the Stade Roland Garros near Paris, in the summer of 
1932. The United States, with Ellsworth Vines, Frank 
Shields, Wilmer Allison, and John Van Ryn, faced France, 
the holder of the Cup. On the last day the score stood two 
matches to one in favor of France, with two more to be played. 
The decision might come either in the fourth or fifth match, 
and anywhere within the space of two hours. A half-hour 
period was all we could get for broadcasting to America. 

The French radio men whom we asked for * facilities' 
probably thought it was a harebrained scheme. At any rate 

\adio (jets the Ifyws 185 

they couldn't have taken it very seriously, to judge from 
the place they assigned to us, on top of the uppermost roof 
of the stadium a mere parapet, crowded with news-reel 
men and press photographers. Anyone with the slightest 
tendency to giddiness might have fallen to his death. How- 
ever, we considered ourselves lucky to have been admitted 
at all when we heard that Mr. Davis, the donor of the Cup, 
who had either forgotten his badge or couldn't pronounce 
Davis in French, was turned back by the stern guardians of 
the gate! 

Our case was much more serious; we were just radio men 
with nothing to prove it. The American sporting expert who 
had been appointed to cover the match for Columbia had 
suddenly disappeared, complete with admission tickets, 
broadcasting permit, and all, and wasn't discovered till days 
after the match, recovering from something or other, in the 
American Hospital. The stadium was jammed and tickets 
were rarer than hens' teeth. Luckily I found John R. Tunis, 
one of America's leading tennis writers, in Paris; to help me 
out, he took over at a few hours' notice, and that was, so far 
as I know, his entrance into radio. Tunis and I literally 
fought our way to our perch (for there is no one more skeptical 
than a Frenchman guarding a gate) ; found our microphone, 
and, flanked by noisy chatterers, did a quick-fire commen- 
tary through cupped hands. 

But luck was with us. Our half-hour period began in the 
fourth set of what turned out to be the decisive match, be- 
tween the two veterans, Borotra and Allison. Allison, at 
5-3, appeared to be winning, but Borotra (who had un- 
expectedly beaten Vines on the first day) was the hero of the 
crowd, who were shouting 'Borocco! Borocco!' with savage 
enthusiasm. Twice Allison had been within a point of 
victory. In the tenth game, within a point of drawing level, 
Borotra split a tennis shoe but was obliged to fight on, losing 
three points and making it deuce. Then he appealed to the 
umpire and was allowed to change his shoes, which he did 
very leisurely, sitting on a ball-boy's back. Both men were 
highly wrought up, the crowd in an ugly mood, while 
thunder clouds darkened the sultry sky. 

1 86 Hello ^America! 

Despite his rest, Borotra lost the vantage point to Allison, 
who was for the third time within an inch of victory. Borotra 
then served what looked like a double fault. We broadcast 
America's ' victory/ and Allison gleefully threw nis racket in 
the air. But the linesmen kept ominous silence: the ball was 
declared good. The crowd cheered and jeered and 
Allison began to lose his nerve. Borotra summoned his 
.remaining strength it was the last great 'chance of his 
career winning game, set, and Davis Cup for France. 

A terrific roar went up: it was the last flare-up of France's 
tennis supremacy. We were so excited that we lost track of 
the time; so we kept right on, hoping that America was 
hearing us somehow. Our half hour was up it was a 
matter of minutes: had we been cut off, according to the 
inexorable broadcasting schedule? 

Twenty minutes later a cable was handed up the vertical 
iron ladder. New York, too, had listened with bated breath, 
had allowed the program to run over. So they had every- 
thing, including the sad news. America had taken a licking, 
but we had made radio history. 

Soon transatlantic tennis commentaries became obliga- 
tory; today they are regular features of the summer schedule 
both in England and America. 


But it was the Olympic Games of 1936, in Germany, that 
provided the biggest sporting event to date. No such elabo- 
rate broadcasting arrangements had ever been made before. 
Not only were the games being broadcast nationally, but 
they were being transmitted to some forty other nations of 
the world. It was not just a case of * feeding ' one commentary 
to all: each country had to be served in its own language, by 
its own sports commentators; each country had its particular 
pet events, in which its own athletes excelled. Thus America 
concentrated on track events, and the diving of its girls; 

(jets the T^ews 187 

the Japanese on running and swimming; the Finns on 
Marathon; the French on bicycling and boxing; the British 
on rowing. Only the Germans were interested in practically 
everything, but particularly in javelins, weights, and any- 
thing that could be thrown. 

Great organizers that they are, the Germans in charge of 
the Games made a great point of efficiency, and everything 
went practically without a hitch. As for 'broadcasting, they 
built five additional short-wave transmitters, bringing the 
number up to eight, working on eighteen frequencies directed 
to every part of the world, thus providing the most magnif- 
icent service to the nations concerned and, incidentally, the 
biggest propaganda machine in the world for themselves. 
The Olympic Games were not only the Nazis' greatest 
'circus' to date, but the prestige to be derived from it was 
regarded as a matter of life and death. 

Radio provided not only the instrument for news-dis- 
tribution and the gingering up of morale, but for the mar- 
shalling of crowds. This regimentation by means of the 
ubiquitous loud-speaker especially in Garmisch, where 
arc-light standards and flagpoles were endowed with a 
mechanical voice gave one an idea of the uses to which 
this new gift to man might be put in time of war. 

One night, when the Winter Olympics were in the first 
stage, I witnessed a weird and sinister scene; thousands of 
workmen were hurriedly completing the immense Nazi 
amusement hall, the Kraft durch Freude headquarters, put 
up in eighty-eight days for the entertainment of the German 
proletariat during the two weeks of the Games. It was dark, 
except for the piercing shafts of light from the projectors at 
the four corners of the field, and the snow was falling thickly. 
The men moved silently, in long files, carrying beams and 
materials; others, like giant ants, were swarming to their 
tasks. And from a loud-speaker somewhere came the bel- 
lowing voice of the invisible overseer urging them on ... 
It gave me the creeps; it was Wagner's Nibelheim scene 
enlarged to gigantic proportions and transposed to the sur- 
face of the earth. 

But there were things of beauty, too. A kindly nature had 

1 88 Hello ^America! 

provided the much-needed snow at the eleventh hour; and 
Garmisch, gay with the colors and costumes of all the nations, 
was turned into fairyland. The great ski stadium, a white 
arena built against a steep wooded mountain side, with its 
giant ski-jumps, its flags and its Olympic fire, was a never- 
to-be-forgotten sight. During the closing ceremony, timed 
with unerring showmanship at the fall of night, a team of 
eight skiers, at the word of command, gathered in the giant 
Olympic flag white, with the five colored rings represent- 
ing the continents of the earth. Spread horizontally between 
them, they rushed it at breakneck speed down the mountain 
side, while a moving floodlight made it the one luminous 
object in the vast natural arena. To the playing of the 
Olympic Hymn, the tolling of bells and the gradual dying 
down of the Olympic fire, the immense crowd stood, electri- 
fied. That was one of the most beautiful spectacles it has been 
my fortune to see from a broadcasting booth or anywhere else. 

The summer games in Berlin, though more gigantic in 
scope, were an emotional anticlimax after this poignant 
close, but for two weeks they kept at least a half-dozen 
American broadcasters in one mad whirl. I can remember 
only a few sensational and some absurdly funny things. I 
remember Ted Husing's tour de force in describing, for 
American and British listeners, that incredible 2oo-meter 
dash won by the American negro, Jesse Owens (who also 
won the 100 meters and the long jump and was in fact the 
hero of the Olympics, but was not invited to shake Hitler's 
hand). Ted, in reporting that race while it was being run 
way down in the bottom of that immense bowl, not only 
described the runners and their style, but every change of 
relative position, spotted changes of pace, forecast the re- 
sult, and told his listeners the timing before the official 
watcher could get it out. He spoke faster than Owens ran; 
every word was distinct and the drama complete. 

These direct commentaries had to be made through 
'bottle' microphones, which were held close up to the lips, 
from an open platform, with the speaker flanked by polyglot 
colleagues on either side and completely surrounded by a 
sport-frenzied mob. 

(adio fyts the TS^ews 189 

I remember, too, how the half-prostrated winners of these 
mad spurts of physical power came up to the microphone 
to say pleasant platitudes with their remaining breath; and 
how in the evening we had to lure them out of their 'Olympic 
Village' to come to the cubbyhole studios atop the grand- 
stand to speak with calculated modesty to the folks at home. 
Among them were Helen Stephens, that amazingly mascu- 
line woman who won the 100 meters, brainy little Jim 
Lovelock, Australia's I5oo-meter world champion, A. F. 
Williams, the hero of the 4OO-meter race, and many more. 

I remember the weird scene at that woodland colony 
(whose builder preferred suicide to political ignominy soon 
after the Games), when bands of hefty athletes of different 
nationalities stood around in the moonlight and sang their 
songs into our microphone, the Germans with determined 
precision, the Italians with gay abandon, the Canadians 
wearing enormous scarlet maple leaves on their white 
sweaters with a lustiness that nearly shattered our ear- 
drums. And I remember the terrific excitement at the 
swimming tank when Jack Medica won the 4OO-meter swim 
for the United States; and also that other American Victory* 
- in the same place when a California woman, hunting 
autographs, kissed Adolf Hitler on his moustache in front of 
a gaping crowd. 

But above all I remember that rainy afternoon at Grunau 
on the river Havel, when two middle-aged Englishmen, 
J. Beresford and L. F. Southwood, won the double-skulls, 
and eight mere college boys from Washington State Univer- 
sity walked away with the ' eights' both against the super- 
trained rowing stars picked from all Germany who were 
winning every decisive race that day. We had had to stand 
up for the German anthem and the 'Horst Wessel' song after 
every event, until we were nauseated. 

America was interested only in the eights, though her 
chances seemed slim, and we had reserved a transatlantic 
circuit for the period of that race alone. Suddenly I dis- 
covered that the time had been changed retarded by 
fifty minutes and our broadcast would fall into an 
empty space. I blanched, harangued the officials: nothing 

1 90 Hello ^America! 

could be done. I jumped over seats, shouldered my way 
past Nazi guards into the clubhouse, grabbed a telephone, 
and asked for New York. The bystanders thought I was 
mad. In twenty minutes, just before the original timing, I 
got the New York control-room to change the program: by 
a great stroke of luck it could still be done. Then Bill 
Henry, my greatest standby in these frantic weeks, and I 
climbed to the roof of the grandstand and waited at our 

The starting shot rang out; the Italians jumped ahead, 
then the Germans would they win again? The Americans 
were fifth, with only England trailing them, for three- 
quarters of the 2ooo-meter course. Then they pulled up to 
third place and 300 yards from the finish it was neck and 
neck. They spurted, Italy keeping up with them; but less 
than twenty yards from the finish Washington shot forward, 
winning by a mere six feet, the most important water race 
of the Olympic Games. And what a chance! We were the 
only American radio commentators to catch that race, with 
millions of Americans listening to us. 

A shout went up, and some groans. Then the Star- 
Spangled Banner was played, which almost nobody in that 
predominantly German crowd could sing. So four of us 
two men, two women yelled and sang it into the micro- 
phone, thus making our musical radio debut. . . . 

Competition between American broadcasters was keener 
than ever. Both networks jockeyed for the first broadcast 
from the Games. What would it be? The American team's 
arrival at Hamburg? We both tried for it; it fell through. 
So Columbia arranged to take a short-wave transmitter on 
to the special boat-train, and for a half hour Bill Henry 
interviewed America's athletic stars while that train sped 
at sixty miles an hour toward Berlin, where our competitors 
were waiting for them to arrive. So we won the first round. 
Needless to say, the Opposition won others; but for once we 
were both too busy to notice what was happening in the 
other camp. 1 In 1940 the fight will start over again, unless . . . 

1 Injustice to our friends of the N.B.C., let me add that for a week or so before 
the Games they relayed the Olympic torch-runner's arrival at various points on his 
way from Olympia to Berlin. 

\adio (jets the 

Seeing us broadcast to America from a position in the 
stadium grandstand, a pudgy little Japanese squeezed up to 
the microphone and asked if he might say a few words to 
the American public. He was a member of the Japanese 
Parliament, and a graduate of Harvard. Japan having just 
been selected for the Games of 1940, he wanted to invite all 
his friends to come to Japan. Will they be in a mood to go? 


Elections are of all news events the most suitable for 
broadcasting, outside of sport, both being prearranged yet 
speculative; certain in time, but uncertain in outcome. 
Election returns by radio can reach more people and by a 
more direct route than through any other medium. The first 
election to be broadcast anywhere was the United States 
presidential contest of 1920 (Warren G. Harding), when the 
Westinghouse Company's station KDKA at Pittsburgh sent 
out the returns. This, however, reached only a small section 
of the public, and the first nation-wide broadcasting of 
election returns could not take place in America until 1928, 
a year after the National Broadcasting Company had been 
established. Meantime the B.B.C. had broadcast the British 
General Elections of 1923 and 1924. 

Since international broadcasting did not start with any 
degree of regularity till 1930, the first opportunity to trans- 
mit the results of a European election to America was in 
1931, when a sensational landslide swept the first British 
National Government into office. Although the matter 
received no newspaper notice at the time, it may be worth 
mentioning that two people, one sitting in the garden room 
of my house in St. John's Wood, London, the other in a 
broadcasting studio in New York, were responsible for 
stealing a march on the entire American press by broad- 
casting an analysis of results at an hour (3 A.M. in London; 
five hours earlier, namely 10 P.M., in New York) when the 

192. Hello ^America! 

decisive returns were already in, and radio listening was at a 
peak hour in America. 

The man in London was Raymond Gram Swing, then 
London correspondent of the New York Evening Post, his 
partner in New York was myself. The process was simple: 
after sketching the political background of the election in a 
five-minute talk I simply gave a cue to the transatlantic 
telephone operator to switch me to London, an open circuit 
being held in readiness for Swing, and by a series of questions 
elicited the outstanding facts the unprecedented debacle 
of the Labor Party, the defeat of ex-ministers, the alto- 
gether surprising revulsion in public feeling as recorded at 
the polls. 1 

Since this pioneer job every European election of real 
importance has been broadcast to America, notably the 
German elections of 1932-33 three within a year! 
which prepared the way for Hitler, and the British elections 
of November, 1935, when S. K. Ratcliffe and myself broad- 
cast 'rival' resumes from London. 

But the most exciting and amusing broadcast of this 
category was the commentary on the Saar plebiscite in 
January, 1935, which is a story worth telling in detail. 

1 For the sake of technical accuracy: the telephone transmitter at either end was 
of course equipped with microphone and amplifier. 



IN THE spring of 1933, following the exciting events 
which swept Hitler first into office and then after the 
burning of the Reichstag into power, I was travelling 
through Germany into Austria. It was the centenary year 
of Johannes Brahms, the great German composer who some 
fifty-five years before had travelled over the same route, to 
spend the rest of his life in Vienna. Both Germany and 
Austria claim him as their 'son'; both Berlin and Vienna 
had planned great celebrations for the month of May. 
Turning my back on the brutalities of the Nazi revolution, 
I was glad to follow the great master's footsteps and enjoy 
his music in the city of his choice. 

Vienna, poor and down at the heel, was nevertheless 
enjoying its Brahms. The multi-colored kiosks on the 
Ringstrasse, where the trees were breaking into feathery 
green, announced the concerts; the newspapers were full of 
comment on the superlative performances of Furtwangler 
and Schnabel, Huberman and Casals. But they were also 
full of other, more sinister things. One day they reported 
how two Germans of official rank, including a Doctor Frank, 
Minister of Justice in the State of Bavaria, had arrived at 
the Vienna air field for a speech-making tour of Austria; 
they were in Nazi uniform and their manner was that of 
conquerors. They were met by representatives of the 
Austrian Government and told in so many words that they 
were not welcome. Nevertheless they stayed. They were 

194 Hello ^America! 

given a police escort, which accompanied them until the end 
of their much-curtailed tour, and were soon delivered across 
the German border into the hands of their compatriots, in 
good order but rather ugly mood. 

For many months the Austrian Nazis, aided and abetted 
by their German comrades, had spread terror through the 
Austrian countryside. Their growing legions had been 
trained with advice and help from more experienced Germans; 
arms had been smuggled across the frontier; a German 
'Inspector-General for Austria* was in charge of the move- 
ment that was to bring Austria into Hitler's Reich. Now that 
Hitler was in power, his agents stalked up and down the land 
more arrogantly than before, dangling visions of German 
fleshpots before hungry Austrian eyes. 

But the worm turned at last. A little man named Engel- 
bert Dollfuss, barely five feet high, had made himself 
dictator of Austria two months back, almost on the very day 
that Hitler's power was confirmed by an overwhelming if 
not wholly voluntary vote. He had been in office ten months 
before that, but had ruled by virtue of a precarious balance 
of numbers in Parliament. But now Parliament had con- 
veniently voted itself out of existence, and Dollfuss, with 
aid of a private army of green-hatted peasant lads, the 
Heimwehr, was in control. It was the chief of the Vienna 
Heimwehr detachment, a tough and able operator named 
Major Fey, who had provided such a sour welcome for the 
flying Nazi missionaries at the Vienna air field. 

But people about the Government were worried. The 
Nazi battalions in the country grew by leaps and bounds; 
violence shooting, burning, hooliganism of an expert 
viciousness increased daily. Vienna, except for its hang- 
dog look, seemed pretty normal: the cafes were full, as 
always; pianists banged their stale Mitropa jazz on tinny 
night-bar pianos; people cracked jokes about their 'Milli- 
metternich' chancellor. Paraphrasing a famous Austrian 
general in the war, they opined that the situation was 
'hopeless, but not serious/ But they knew little of what 
went on beyond the range of their own vision; like their 
German cousins in the years just passed, they read only the 

T^adio Fights Its First War 195 

papers that printed what they liked to read, not what they 
ought to have learned. 1 

The German Nazis were furious over the treatment of 
their emissaries; their papers dripped venom; their radio 
stations, just getting reorganized under a Nazi head, cried 
havoc through the land; retaliatory measures were planned, 
resulting in the famous tourist boycott and the radio war. 

My presence in Vienna, though accidental, seemed pro- 
vidential. I felt that the world should think more about 
Austria than it did its economic plight, the threat to its 
independence, its apparent helplessness before the coming 
avalanche. Peace in Europe was at that moment poised on a 
delicate arch, and Austria was the keystone of the arch. A 
Nazified Austria would mean a solid wall of Fascism from 
the Baltic to the Mediterranean, with peaceful democracies 
on one side and Stalinism on the other a situation that 
was bound to lead to war. 


People I talked to felt that Chancellor Dollfuss should be 
heard by the world. At that time he was not the inter- 
nationally popular figure he was to become: his diminutive 
stature was the only thing that got him friendly foreign 
publicity. I delayed my departure; before I left I was sum- 
moned to the Ballhausplatz that great baroque govern- 
ment building in which the map of nineteenth-century 
Europe had been drawn after the Napoleonic wars, and 
which a year hence was to be the scene of the most melodra- 
matic chapter of post-war history. Before these sanguinary 

1 The situation at this time is well illustrated by one of the many jokes that passed 
from lip to lip. A poor Viennese on the edge of starvation asks a friend what on 
earth he can do to keep body and soul together. 'Go up to a policeman and shout 
"Heil Hitler!"' says the friend. 'That will get you to jail and there you'll be fed.' 
The desperate man takes the advice and picks a policeman at a busy corner: 'Heil 
Hitler!' 'Heil Hitler!' answers the policeman in a whisper, 'but get along with you 
quick or they'll put us both in the jug.' 

196 Hello ^America! 

events, however, the access to the historic chancellory was 
easy, and the hall porter as gemutlich as only a Viennese can 
be. I mounted the long flights of stone steps in the rambling 
palace; a labyrinth of corridors guarded by slouching, 
bearded attendants relics of Emperor Franz Josef's time 

led me to the anteroom of the Government's press chief 

a very important official close to the Chancellor and 
Foreign Minister, namely, Dollfuss himself. 

The attendant in charge of the waiting-room, after con- 
siderable head-shaking, finally agreed that I might possibly 
see the Herr Gesandter (a title indicating a certain rank in the 
Austrian diplomatic service) but doubted whether it would 
be today. The fact that I had an appointment failed to 
shake his pessimism: they were all so busy not excluding 
himself, it seemed, for as quickly as possible he turned his 
back on the waiting visitors and applied himself most assid- 
uously to some important-looking papers. Long, boresome 
waiting, broken only by the arrival of further visitors (none 
of whom got more than fleeting and grudging attention from 
the busy official), finally made me curious, and I spied over 
his shoulder. The supposed document was music band 
parts being copied out in government office hours and ob- 
viously with official sanction! I looked again to read the 
title of the opus; it was 'Weaner Mad'ln* * Viennese 
Girls/ a waltz! I had heard of Viennese police inspectors 
writing string quartets in their spare time, but that was 
before the war. Now, with the country in danger, it was a 
waltz. ' Desperate, but not serious ' . . . 

Let me hasten to add, however, that there was seriousness 
within the guarded doors. The gesture to put Doctor 
Dollfuss on the air was appreciated, and the matter was 
quickly arranged for the following Sunday afternoon. 

I first saw the diminutive statesman in a large, high- 
ceilinged state chamber of the Chancellor's palace the 
very room in which eventually he was to meet his fate. He 
came through one of the gigantic doors, followed by his press 
chief and an attache, both of more than average height. 
His tiny stature was thereby greatly accentuated: at least 
two chancellors his size, standing on top of each other, could 

\adio Fights Its First War 197 

have walked through that door. Everything in the room was 
on the grand scale, in line with the sprawling elephantism 
of the Austrian Empire that was no more. But though small, 
Dollfuss made a 'complete* impression a finely propor- 
tioned, good-looking, well-groomed man with very simple, 
disarmingly direct manners. 

'I am delighted to meet you/ he said. 'Why, you're not 
much taller than I!' And he made me stand back to back 
with him so that the rest of the company could see there 
wasn't much difference. He seemed pleased for once not to 
have to look up in order to talk with a stranger. While 
engineers made final adjustments to the microphone on the 
table, and press photographers clicked their cameras from 
various angles, Dollfuss discussed his broadcast to America. 

It had been agreed that it should not be aggressive. It was 
to attack nobody, but was to assert Austria's individuality, 
its right of self-determination 'Austria for the Austrians,' 
in short. Ever since the war the Austrians had been talking 
Anschluss, emphasizing their Germanness. Whatever a 
party's policies, whether Pan-German, Christian-social, or 
Socialist, Anschluss union with Germany had to be one 
of its planks. Yet every Austrian hated the 'Prussians' 
which meant every German north of Bavaria. I once asked 
an Austrian how the politicians reconciled these two ideas. 
'You know what the Germans of the eighteenth century,' he 
said, 'oppressed by petty tyrants, but dreaming of liberty 
and unity, used to whisper to each other? "Never speak of 
it, but always think of it!" Well, it's the reverse with 
Anschluss. The slogan is: "Always speak of it, but never 
think of it!" in other words, don't take it seriously.' 

So now the sacred dream of 'union with our German 
brethren' had given way to Austria's struggle to 'maintain 
its Austrian character in the interest of Germanism as a 
whole,' to quote Dollfuss's words. Was that, I thought, 
what Mussolini was spending his money for? For it was he 
that financed the Heimwehr, while Germany poured millions 
into the Austrian Nazis' till. 

The speech was, in fact, a string of political euphemisms. 
It explained the 'elimination' of the Austrian Parliament as 

1 98 Hello ^America! 

an epoch in the country's organic development, though it 
affirmed the equality of all Austrians before the law and 
asserted that all kinds of racial hatred were contrary to the 
national character. It eulogized that redoubtable Monsignor 
Seipel, the deceased Catholic leader, as the only post-war 
Austrian statesman, and ignored the existence of the largest 
party in Austria, the Socialists. And it ended on the seduc- 
tive note of Vienna's charm (an approved formula of all 
Austrian post-war politicians for the attraction of tourists), 
but remained silent on the most remarkable achievement of 
the Viennese people, the municipal workers' tenements, 
erected by opponents of his regime. 

This was hardly the stuff I had hoped for; still, it was 
Dollfuss, and Americans might as well hear what he stood 
for. But, as I heard afterwards, the speech wasn't heard, 
because somewhere between Vienna and the Swiss border 
(transmission was via the League of Nations' short-wave 
station at Prangins) some telephone engineers, either Nazi 
or Socialist, recognizing Dollfuss's voice, stopped working 
the * repeaters,' without which the volume of sound is in- 
sufficient for retransmission. It was another typically 
Austrian maneuver. Comically enough, however, the Eng- 
lish translation of the speech did go through, evidently be- 
cause of the engineers' blissful ignorance of what it was! 

The day before this, a jolly company was lunching in an 
old-fashioned Viennese Keller when one of those quaint 
Viennese characters, a sixty-year-old flower ' girl,' came in to 
sell us little bunches of spring flowers. Having done good 
business she shouted 'Heil Dollfuss!' by way of good-bye. 
We thought that it was a common and spontaneous greeting 
and concluded that the little Chancellor was popular among 
at least a section of the people. But we never heard it again, 
and next day I had quite a different impression. Dollfuss, 
having accomplished his broadcast to America, had to go 
to the air field to congratulate the winners in the great Race 
around the Alps (Alpenflug). He invited me to come along, 
and we rode, side by side, in his official car, accompanied by 
two high officials. When we reached the field a crowd had 
collected at the entrance, marshalled by a couple of police- 

Chancellor Dollfuss spoke from the very room in which 
eventually he was to meet his fate 

T^adio Fights Its First War 199 

men, who saluted, as did some soldiers further on. The 
sullenly curious crowd stared silently at the Chancellor, 
whose face and figure are unmistakable. There wasn't a 
cheer, there wasn't a greeting; only one or two people 
rather furtively took off their hats. On the other hand, there 
were no gestures of hostility, and there was no detective or 
bodyguard in attendance. This didn't strike me as note- 
worthy at the time, but I thought of it when Dollfuss's name 
was on the front pages of the world press a few months later. 

Dollfuss's conversation showed him to be even more 
naive than I had thought. Or was he merely feigning simpli- 
city? We talked about his plans for Austria, and he said 
that the crux of the country's prosperity was farming. (He 
himself was an expert agriculturist.) It was his plan to 
make Austria as nearly self-supporting as possible by or- 
ganizing the ' peasant front' and planning the perfect 
exploitation of the soil. This, in view of the fact that two 
fifths of the country is forest and that nine tenths is moun- 
tainous, seemed rather a large contract. Of industry he had 
little to say, and of the workingman not a word. This may 
all have been political eyewash, but it seemed to show where 
his sympathies lay. Dollfuss, beset by enemies on the Right 
and Left, had more than one chance to compromise with the 
Socialists, the moderate Austrian democratic workingman's 
party, but his completely rural sympathies and his rigid 
piety made it impossible for him to cross that bridge. 

Against the Nazis his feelings were, if anything, less bitter. 
It was they who were threatening him openly; to them his 
life was forfeit. Yet when someone in the car said that from 
now on 'they would be paid back with their own coin/ 
Dollfuss was eloquently silent. 


The Nazis across the border, however, were going strong. 
They had been blocked in carrying the torch of revolt to the 

loo Hello ^America! 

enemy's camp; very well, they would find another way. 
Early in July the Munich broadcasting station issued an 
official announcement that from then on they would pay 
more attention to the situation in Austria, would broadcast 
regular talks revealing the 'true position' to listeners in 
Germany and Austria. Refugees from Austria would come 
to the microphone and tell Germans on both sides of the 
frontier about 'the brutal fight which is being fought by a 
small separatist clique in Austria against all things German/ 
The Austrian Government, preaching 'Austria for the 
Austrians, in the interest of Germanism as a whole,' were 
thus branded as just a clique of separatists, on whom war 
had to be declared. 

The 'war' started on July 5, when the notorious State- 
Leader Habicht, formerly Nazi 'Inspector-General for 
Austria,' began his series of harangues against Dollfuss and 
his government. Habicht had been expelled from Austria 
after preaching disobedience to his followers; he had thou- 
sands of partisans, spoke their language, knew their troubles. 
He now followed the same tactics from afar, exploiting these 
troubles, systematically bringing discontent and revolt to 
fever heat. The Munich transmitter could be heard practi- 
cally throughout Austria, as well or better than the Austrian 
stations, and the Austrians were helpless. Day after day, 
night after night, the attacks went on, interspersed with 
cleverly produced 'cultural' offerings attractive to the 
Austrian peasant and mountaineer. 

The Austrian broadcasting authorities, realizing that retal- 
iation would be useless, appealed to the International Broad- 
casting Union, on the basis of some mild resolutions against 
hostile broadcasting that had been adopted. It had little 
effect. The Germans boycotted Austria economically, and 
that summer in hundreds of Tyrolese hotels empty be- 
cause the German customers couldn't come hungry na- 
tives listened to broadcasts which blamed the Government 
for their country's plight. Little did it matter that at last 
the outside world was waking up; little did it matter that 
little Dollfuss was the hero of the World Economic Confer- 
ence in London that summer, while Doctor Schacht, as 

T^adio Fights Its First War 2.01 

German delegate, coolly laid down the law to the world's 
statesmen who showed no enthusiasm for throwing good 
money after bad. Doctor Dollfuss went home a Parthian hero, 
while his native Austrian countryside bristled with Nazis, 
more and more enraged. 

Some three months after his return, on October 3, he was 
shot by one of them, but was wounded only in the arm. 

Radio, the instrument which had in all likelihood been 
the cause of his being laid low, now came to his rescue and 
made him popular at last. From his bedside on the day of 
the attempted assassination he spoke to millions of listen- 
ing Austrians, for even his enemies must have had a morbid 
interest in hearing a man who had just by inches escaped 

At last the European Powers were aroused. They made 
representations to Germany, and a kind of truce ensued 
while Dollfuss recovered and succeeded in buttressing his 
position within Austria and without. But the worst was yet 
to come. The truce, so far as the Nazis were concerned, was 
only^a lull the quiet before the storm. Dollfuss, who even 
back in May seemed to me very polite about them, was by 
January ready to dicker with the very Habicht who had 
been thundering imprecations across the frontier by radio. 1 
But Major Fey, whose Heimwehr derived its sinews of war 
from Italy, found another solution in the nick of time, and 
the thunderer returned to his Munich microphone. 

The Austrians, having obtained no satisfaction from their 
correspondence with the Broadcasting Union (whose Ger- 
man vice-president, Doctor Giesecke, was by this time in a 
Nazi concentration camp), now proposed to take the matter 
of the Munich attacks to the League of Nations. Dollfuss 
himself was to go to Geneva to appeal to the January ses- 
sion of the Council. This, it seemed to me, was a peculiarly 
interesting and apposite occasion for international broad- 
casting, so once again I invited Dollfuss to tell his tale to 
America and the world by means of the short-wave channel. 
My offer was accepted and the date provisionally set for the 
first convenient Sunday in February. But fate decided 

1 See John Gunther, Inside Europe, p. 295. 

2.O2. Hello *Amtnca! 

otherwise: momentous events were in preparation; Doctor 
Dollfuss never went to Geneva, he went to Hungary on a 
4 state visit* instead, while Major Fey was left in charge at 
Vienna. Yet the broadcast was not cancelled; it was fixed 
for February 18. 


On the twelfth the previous Monday the world was 
shaken out of its complacence by one of the most appalling 
tragedies of recent times the Austrian civil war. Instead 
of counterattacking the Nazis, the Government's troops and 
Heimwehr volunteers attacked the quiescent Socialists at 
the very moment that their leaders were pleading for peace. 
For four days the military poured fire and lead into the 
model workers' tenements, which had been the pride of 
Vienna and an object of envy to the social-minded of all 
nations. My friend John Gunther, who saw this ghastly 
massacre with his own eyes, has recorded it vividly in his 
Inside Europe. And here he records, too, how Dollfuss 
returned from his state visit was at Mass in St. Stephen's 
church when the lights went out, and at tea with the Papal 
Nuncio while innocent women and children were being 
bombed in their homes. Unaware of the inside facts but 
fully alive to the importance of these cruel events, I ar- 
ranged, by long-distance telephone from Paris (where I had 
gone to report on the Stavisky riots), that Doctor Dollfuss 
should broadcast as agreed, but instead of the original sub- 
ject his talk was to be an explanation, from the Govern- 
ment's point of view, of what had happened in this bloody 

By Friday the fighting had died down, except for clean- 
ing-up actions in the provinces, and by Sunday all calmness 
was restored, while victims of the correct political color were 
given state funerals. I asked John Gunther to take charge 
of the broadcast for me, to introduce the Chancellor at the 

*S(adio Fights Its First War 103 

microphone, and to 'set the scene/ I realized that the Gov- 
ernment would use the opportunity for an interpretation 
which might minimize its own responsibility, but like the 
rest of the world I was prepared to accept the theory of a 
simple revolt, summarily crushed. I knew Dollfuss, and 
thought him incapable of wanton cruelty. 

The broadcast, in any case, would make headlines, for 
it is not often that the head of a government is heard at the 
crucial moment of a revolutionary struggle. The Austrian 
Government asked me whether we would extend to the 
'other chain* in America permission to relay the Chancel- 
lor's talk, and in the circumstances I felt we should not 
refuse. Austria was entitled to a 100 per cent coverage. 

But John Gunther, whose emotions had been stirred by 
the events of the previous days, refused to introduce the 
Chancellor when he was shown Dollfuss's text. In it the so- 
cialists were represented to be the attackers an irre- 
sponsible group of enemies of the state. Now, knowing what 
I do, I can't blame him; though it would have been quite 
permissible for him simply to tell listeners that he disclaimed 
responsibility. In the end the matter was settled by having a 
government spokesman, in impeccable English, introduce the 
Chancellor, whose speech had been read to me in full, for my 
approval, over the telephone. I suggested some vital altera- 
tions, and they were made. This may have been the only 
time that a mere radio representative censored a prime min- 
ister's speech and a dictator's at that! 

This time no sabotage interfered with the broadcast. The 
little Chancellor's voice went out to the world with a steadi- 
ness that seemed, if anything, too calm. Almost a thousand 
of his compatriots men, women, and children lay dead, 
and here he was explaining it was just an 'attack by a 
small group of fanatics against state and society' and boast- 
ing that 'full order had been restored.' There was no word 
of reconciliation, only a promise that all citizens who 'felt 
nationally' would be protected; the Chancellor himself 
assumed the guardianship of all the dependents of the dead 
in 'our' forces, leaving general relief to the Archbishop of 

104 Hello ^America! 

I thought of the simple, little man talking about the 
Austrian farmer, about Austrian scenery and Austrian music 
on that short motor trip a year ago, and felt that this was 
not good enough. 

Nothing more was said about the radio attacks from the 
Munich station, which, however, went on unabated. Largely 
thanks to them, the Nazi organization within Austria grew 
and grew, while on the German side of the border the Aus- 
trian Legion, made up of Nazi refugees, was being armed and 
drilled. Habicht and Frauenfeld, the fugitive leaders of the 
Austrian Nazi Party, were in charge. The Austrian Govern- 
ment, having disposed of the Socialists, were more than ever 
in the hands of the victorious Heimwehr, and now looked 
only to Mussolini for support. Dollfuss was planning to go 
to Italy to seal the pact. 

Attention had, indeed, been diverted from Austria by the 
Nazi blood purge of June 30, and we were busy getting some 
sort of a report from inside Germany, an eye-witness ac- 
count being out of the question. On July 13 Hitler made 
his radio speech on these hair-raising events, and we rebroad- 
cast it in America. On July 25, between twelve noon and 
one o'clock, Nazi conspirators attacked, almost simultane- 
ously, the Federal chancellery (with Dollfuss inside) and 
the Austrian broadcasting building ('Ravag') the two 
places which I knew more intimately than any others in 
Vienna. The story of the Ravag attack has again been told 
most vividly by John Gunther, one of the very few out- 
siders who happened to witness it; among the five victims 
were the Director-General's chauffeur, who on more than 
one occasion had driven me on my errands in Vienna, and 
a favorite radio comedian. Director-General Czeija him- 
self escaped, by virtue of his sang-froid: a Nazi attacker 
entered his private office, but was tackled by the jovial and 
hefty Herr Direktor, and held tightly till the police arrived. 

The important fact, however, is that in this attempted 
revolution the broadcasting headquarters was deemed a 
primary point of attack and so it will be in all revolutions 
from now on. These conspirators had been radio-minded 
ever since the Munich radio calumnies started, a year before. 

*E(adio Fights Its First War 05 

If now they did not wholly succeed, it was due to lack of 
technical precautions. They rushed into a studio, covered 
the announcer with their revolvers, and made him say: 
4 The government of Doctor Dollfuss has resigned; Doctor 
Rintelen has assumed power/ That was the agreed signal 
for revolt all over Austria. But they were unable to repeat 
it every ten minutes, as they had planned to do, because a 
Ravag engineer had the presence of mind to sever the cable 
connection with the actual broadcasting transmitter, sit- 
uated outside Vienna, on the Bisamberg. Had they seized 
this station as well, they would have had the entire coun- 
try by the ears. Even to this day both the studio building 
and the station are guarded day and night with truly Aus- 
trian precaution by one lone soldier. 


But if the ' revolt in the ether* failed, the attack on the 
chancellery was pursued to a ghastly, sanguinary end. There 
Dollfuss, ignorant of approaching danger, was holding a 
cabinet meeting to decide, among other things, the fate of a 
theatre devoted to Viennese operetta. A warning reached 
him shortly before noon and the cabinet was dismissed; but 
Dollfuss and the redoubtable Major Fey (who had sent the 
Nazi emissaries packing, as related above) stayed in the build- 
ing. A few minutes later, 140 rebels disguised in the uni- 
forms of the crack Deutschmeister regiment, arrived in three 
huge motor-trucks at the Chancellery, guarded only by two 
policemen and a small guard of honor, who were quickly dis- 
armed. They entered through the main gates, sped through 
the corridors and arrested all the officials in their offices. A 
small detachment burst into the oyster-white room the 
same in which, only a few months before Dollfuss had broad- 
cast his message to America and there they found him, 
trapped at the crucial moment because his valet couldn't un- 
lock the door! 

2.o6 Hello ^America! 

At that moment Otto Planetta, the Nazi ex-corporal, shot 
the little man down, stepped nearer and shot him again 
through the throat. The little man shouted weakly for help. 
He was carried to a little rose-colored divan the very divan 
on which I had sat correcting my broadcast introduction of 
him in 1933 and there he slowly, miserably bled to death. 
An hour and a half later, still dying, he meekly whimpered: 
'Children, you are so good to me.' 

Meantime the Putsch was fought out and lost in the streets. 
While the fate of Austria was in the balance, the whole 
country because the Vienna station had been wrecked 
was being entertained with Viennese waltzes transmitted 
from Linz. The Munich transmitter, however, announced 
that Dollfuss had been killed and the government over- 

After that the hostile broadcasts ceased. It was the end of 
radio's first 'war/ 



NOT long after this the political efficacy of radio was 
to be demonstrated in even more convincing if less 
predatory manner. For months, throughout the summer 
and autumn of 1934, the broadcasting stations of western 
Germany aimed their blandishments at the little German 
territory of the Saar, which was being governed by the 
League of Nations, but under one of the clauses of the Treaty 
of Versailles was to decide its future status by means of a 
plebiscite the following year. 

Previous plebiscites under the Treaty in Slesvig, in 
Silesia, and in Memel had been held without benefit of 
radio. They had gone more or less against Germany. The 
case of the Saar territory was different; Germany in the 
course of fifteen years had learned many a lesson, and had 
acquired a new national status. The Saarlanders, more- 
over, had lived for fifteen years in close proximity with 
French officials and had evidently made up their minds 
to belong to Germany. Nevertheless the Nazis in Germany 
were not disposed to take any chances; so aside from the 
other effective methods of political penetration they loosed 
an evangelical barrage of edification, instruction, and enlight- 
enment upon the Saarlanders, bathing them in a flood of 
patriotic sounds. 

Except for outward appearances the Saar was as Nazified 
as it would ever be; the prohibition of uniforms and flags 
simply added fuel to the nostalgic flames and persuaded the 
good people that they were the victims of an international 

2_o8 Hello ^America! 

oppression, as they were being told by their compatriots 
across the Rhine. It was later admitted, with some pride, 
by Doctor Josef Goebbels, Nazi minister for 'propaganda 
and public enlightenment/ that small secret Nazi broad- 
cast transmitters were also functioning in the Saar before 
the plebiscite; but what with Cologne and Stuttgart and 
the other great German stations, and what with so many 
willing ears, this seems rather like painting the lily, unless 
these transmitters were used for more definitely strategic 
ends. Neither the League, which governed the Saar, nor 
France, which ran the technical services, had thought fit to 
provide local broadcasting, thus throwing the population 
into the arms of the German propaganda machine. The 
Strasbourg station, though partly using the German lan- 

fuage, made no effort to offset this influence, and Luxem- 
urg, for business reasons, observed the strictest neutrality. 
Officially, then, there was no broadcasting of any kind in 
the Saar. Yet I realized that the January plebiscite would 
be one of the big stories of the year. The one way to get a 
radio commentary out of the Saar would be by telephone 
lines to Paris and London, whence it could be short-waved 
to America. I applied to the League Commissioner, and 
at his behest the Frenchmen in charge of the Saar Telephone 
Administration were willing to permit the use of their lines, 
if we could provide microphones, amplifiers, and a technical 
crew to work them. We therefore got a commercial con- 
cern, the Standard Electric, to supply the material and an 
engineer for importation to the region, at our risk. Shipping 
the gear would have meant confiscation by the customs 
authorities or at least fatal delay, so we took it along as 
travellers' luggage, in huge trunks. Crossing the French 
and Saar borders in the early hours of the morning we had 
no trouble in convincing the sleepy customs officials that 
the goods were 'official/ being consigned to the P.T.T. 
(Posts and Telegraphs), without saying for which. It was a 
case of 'white* smuggling, but it had to be done. Our en- 
gineer, a hefty Briton who had been a top-sergeant in the 
World War but spoke no word of French, was an impressive 
and formidable-looking guardian of the precious goods. 

fyrman is the Saar 


Saarbriicken was in turmoil when we arrived. The popu- 
lation was in a state of suppressed excitement, and the atmo- 
sphere was tense. Evergreens and swastikas were every- 
where. Any house that did not show its patriotic sentiment 
was a potential target for the violence that officials expected 
at any moment to break out. They, and especially the 
French, were as nervous as witches; the Germans, on the 
other hand, though living in perfect peace under the benevo- 
lent and neutral government of the League commissioner, 
an upright Scotsman named Geoffrey Knox, had hypnotized 
themselves into believing that they were sorely oppressed 
by the 'Knox terror' (pronounced 'K-nucks terrohr'). 
Luckily for us, however, the League had entrusted the mili- 
tary occupation to neutrals, mostly British, and khaki-clad 
Tommies were to be seen everywhere, providing the one 
element of stability. 

The broadcast had been arranged to take place at an 
improvised studio the furnished flat of the American 
member of the plebiscite committee, Miss Sarah Wambaugh, 
in a residential district on the Saar River. Her presence was 
our greatest piece of luck, and saved the whole enterprise. 
The B.B.C., who also wanted to broadcast from the region 
but had no facilities of their own, made common cause with 
us, and that increased our staff by two. Once we got our 
equipment transported to the ' studio ' (no simple matter, 
with nothing on wheels available and even taxis scarce) we 
thought we were ' set/ and while I fell asleep, exhausted from 
the all-night journey, my top-sergeant engineer disappeared 
in the crowded town. Worried about his safety, I was about 
to send out an S.O.S. when he wandered in, late at night, 
having made whoopee with Tommies who had recognized 
a pal. 

Meantime my troubles had started. The French official 
who had promised the telephone lines calmly denied all 
knowledge of the affair, and said that the permission of the 

Hello ^America! 

Department of the Interior was necessary. This sent me 
scurrying back and forth all next morning between the Gov- 
ernment and Telephone Buildings at opposite ends of 
town in a frantic attempt to get action. Knox, the High 
Commissioner, who had sanctioned the broadcast in the 
first place, was invisible. The department head (a German) 
was absent in a mysterious conference somewhere, while 
long queues of citizens clogged up the passages, trying to 
get passes or certificates of origin (45,000 former Saarlanders 
came into the town from across the border to vote). The 
plebiscite was to be held the next day, and our first broad- 
cast was scheduled for that evening. But next day was a 
Sunday; miles of telephone lines had to be laid, and there 
might be no workmen available. Hours even minutes 
counted. I had visions of our broadcast melting, like the 
snow in the streets, into mush. 

A stern feminine secretary refused to admit me and hear 
my case, since the Herr Minister was 'unreachable.' The 
uniformed watchdog outside shrugged his shoulders. In 
desperation I sat down and wrote the lady what was virtu- 
ally a love-letter, in my most poetic German an appeal 
that must have melted her heart, or, more likely, made her 

It did the trick. Violating instructions not to disturb the 
Herr Minister on any circumstances, she got him on the 
telephone. Orders began to be given, down and down the 
line, till they reached our forgetful French friend at the tele- 
phone department, who was suffering from jangled nerves. 
From his window this petty tyrant in an occupied country 
could see hordes of stalwart Nazis arriving on every train; 
if the plebiscite went as everyone expected, a French offi- 
cial's life wouldn't be worth two Heils or so he thought. 
In this jittery state it was difficult for him to remember any- 
thing, and even more difficult to handle a German engineer- 
ing crew. 

Not till noon next day, within six hours of the first broad- 
cast, did a couple of jolly-faced German linesmen appear 
at Miss Wambaugh's flat, with coils of wire and the familiar 
telephone tackle. My top-sergeant shot a mouthful of rich 

fyrman is the Saar 2.11 

Cockney at them by way of instructions, to which they an- 
swered 'Ja> ja? Years of listening to orders in a foreign 
language had accustomed them to cheerful acquiescence, 
whatever was said. I had the greatest misgivings, but some- 
how the technicans of different nations soon find the magic 
key of understanding. By midafternoon the studio had been 
rigged and our British engineer was calling gadgets by their 
German names, pronounced as in Bromley or Bow. 


All that day the voting went on, in schoolhouses, assembly 
rooms, and municipal buildings. Five hundred and twenty- 
eight thousand Saarlanders, men and women, trudged 
through slush and snow; over ninety per cent of them cast 
their vote for Hitler's Third Reich, while only a miserable 
8.87 per cent dared to vote for the continuance of League 
government. France didn't get even a decent handful of 
votes (0.44 per cent). Absolute order was maintained; the 
voting machinery was as perfect and fraud-proof as any- 
thing can be. Englishmen, Dutchmen, Americans solid 
citizens of all neutral countries acted as watchers and 
tellers, the most complete example of international collab- 
oration in a critical task I had ever seen. I hustled from 
polling place to polling place to see how it worked. Old and 
young, rich and poor, male and female one by one they 
got their ballots, disappeared silently in the booth to make 
their cross, and as silently walked off mouths tightly 
shut in obedience to orders broadcast from distant Ber- 
lin. Feeble old people tottered up the steps, helped by Red 
Cross nurses stationed at every entrance; invalids were 
rolled in on wheeled chairs not a German able to crawl 
stayed indoors that day. The vote was ninety-eight per cent 
of the electorate probably an all-time record. 

The result was a foregone conclusion, but the extent of 
Hitler's victory was a surprise; and the story was full of 

2. 12. Hello ^America! 

human interest. The snowclad, spired city astride the 
lovely river made a fascinating picture. Frederick Voigt, the 
diplomatic correspondent of the Manchester Guardian, 
described it for the English, I for the American audience; 
Miss Wambaugh, world authority on plebiscites, explained 
the technical procedure. Both broadcasts were successful. 
Elated, we went forth to gather more atmosphere for the 
next day's stint. 

Returns were not to be declared till the day after that, 
but the public counting of votes conducted by men of many 
nationalities made a story. Then there was a threat of vio- 
lence to Separatists and Socialists; the leaders of the anti- 
Nazi parties were marked men; some had already fled. 
Afraid that the electricity supply might be cut off, we 
scoured the garages of the town for batteries that might 
supply sufficient emergency 'juice.' The top-sergeant was 
in his element, presiding over rows of accumulators and a 
system of alternate switches for all eventualities. 

Once more we assembled in the 'studio/ ready to perform. 
Ralph Murray, a handsome young B.B.C. news-caster 
speaking Oxford English, excellent Viennese German, and 
Swiss boarding-school French, manned the control circuit 
and shouted his 'Hello's* to reach the telephone exchange 
and ask to have the broadcast channel set up. No answer- 
came. He shouted and shouted, and still no answer came. 
We tried the private telephone, but the 'international' op- 
erators of the day before were gone, and no line to Paris and 
London was on tap. We phoned around town to locate offi- 
cials: our French friends had left; their German deputies 
were celebrating the victory in places unknown. The clock 
ticked on to zero hour, our broadcast time elapsed. We 
knew that at the other end, in London, people were like- 
wise shouting 'Hello!' trying to reach us; and here we were, 
with our own batteries, our own crew, bursting with infor- 
mation and nothing but a dead 'mike.' We went home 

Next day the results were to be announced. I awoke to 
the sound of church bells and human voices singing in har- 
mony. It was the most extraordinary sound I had ever 

(jerman is the Saar 

heard. Unseen thousands, afar off, singing, singing, singing 
without stop, a wave of sound rising and falling as new 
groups, now near now far, joined in. It was the Saarland 
song, being sung that day by uncounted multitudes on both 
sides of the Rhine; and it went on all day, almost without 
break, like continuous round. 

' German is the Saar, 

German evermore! 

And German is our River's shore 

My Fathers' Land/ 

Windows were thrown open and the same song issued from 
loud-speakers, tuned to stations across the Rhine; the bells 
of Cologne Cathedral, of churches all over the land, mixed 
into this strange kaleidoscope of sound; it was the German 
people rejoicing over their first triumph since Versailles. 

The streets were alive with people, for a national holiday 
had been declared. Enormous flags burst from the windows 
of every house; the town was a sea of waving scarlet set 
against a background of snow. There were parades and 
parades, triple shouts of 'Heil!' as group met group. Here 
was a sound-picture such as had never been and perhaps 
would never be again: it was the picture I wanted to convey 
to listeners across the sea. But would our circuits work this 
time ? Once again there had to be pilgrimages of protest to 
Government and Telephone Department. 


This time, despite the universal whoopee, we reached the 
top. The French telephone chief and de facto Postmaster- 
General of the Saar, was in a curiously nostalgic mood. A 
middle-aged, grizzly-moustached Parisian of easy-going pre- 
war mentality, he had spent fifteen years bossing German 
civil servants in this artificial miniature state. He had done 
his job, but had done it without learning German in all 
those years a triumph of French culture among the ' bar- 

Hello ^America! 

barians.' Now, within days of his inevitable abdication, the 
vision of a peaceful aperitif on the Boulevard des Capucines 
began to mollify his inward rage: 

l uinze ansT he cried. ' Quinze am dans ce sal pay si Cest 
beaucoupy vous savez, pour un Parisien? Fifteen years of 
bother with the 'bodies,' and now he would go home to 
his slippers and his good French food. 'When I came here, 
how they all professed to love the French! How they came 
to me, saying their great-great-grandfather had fought under 
the Emperor Napoleon: anything to get promotion. And 
now now I, who have helped them, been a father to them 
for years, no longer exist. They're going to be their own 
bosses in their own fatherland, they say, and everything's 
going to be fine! 

'Mais!' he cried, holding up a wagging forefinger. 
1 Ecoutez! I'm coming back. In two years I'm coming back 
on a visit, and I'm going to ask these chaps: "Eh bien? Com- 
ment $ a va? How do you like your 'freedom' now?" They'll 
learn a thing or two after standing at attention and marching 
and shouting Heil while there's not enough to eat. They'll 
find out how well off they were when / was here ! ' 

We sympathized with him, and he promised to help. The 
boys of the telephone service, he explained, had been out 
celebrating last night, but they'd be on the job tonight. 
Whether they'd be sober was another question, for the beer 
saloons and Kneipen were doing a roaring trade. 


We went into one of these emporia of liquid patriotism, 
one which was also the headquarters of the secret S.A. 
troop. At last these brownshirts would be able to cut loose; 
hitherto they had been kept quiet by the ' K-nucks terrohr.' 
Now they'd show these Reds to whom the country belonged. 
The beer flowed freely, washing down dozens of the local 
breed of hot dogs. The atmosphere was thick with smoke, 

fyrman is the Saar 

the noise of celebration deafening. A little girl of five was 
being taught the Nazi salute. We explained to the troop 
leader that we were broadcasting to England and America, 
and wanted to be sure to catch the atmosphere of the Big 
Day. Would there be celebrations in the vicinity of our stu- 
dio tonight? 

Well, they'd see to it. In fact there was a beer hall just 
down the street, where a detachment would meet, and they 
would time their homeward march to pass our house while 
the broadcast was on. We compared watches, and sealed 
the bargain with another pint. The time of the broadcast 
arrived; the town went on Carnaval. Festoons of multi- 
colored lights turned the streets into fairyland. Church 
bells rang and searchlights swept the river; bands of singing 
celebrants marched up and down, interspersing their songs 
with l Heill Heill Heil! y 

Again we were all set, but just as luck would have it there 
was a lull in our remote part of town. I started to talk; 
Murray opened the window no sign of the revellers. 
Then, remembering the Nazi's beer saloon, he leapt down- 
stairs, raced down the street, stormed into the celebration 
to ask, in the*richest South-German dialect ever spoken by 
an English Public School man, why in blazes they weren't 
marching home as agreed? Being blond and tall, more 
Aryan-looking than the native 'Aryans/ he got his orders 
obeyed by the men and especially - the women. The 
crowd poured out into the street and marched past our 
windows singing and yelling as only Nazis can, just five 
minutes before our time was up. 

We shouted down to them to sing the Saarland song, 
opened our windows wide, and placed a microphone on the 
windowsill. And so we gave America and England an 
earful of patriotic singing and ' heil-mg as background to 
the plebiscite returns. When it was all over we too felt like 
celebrating, for we had transmitted the first plebiscite ever 
broadcast, and the first program from a place that had never 
been on the air. By the skin of our teeth. 



THE human tragicomedy enacted in Europe through the 
spring and summer of 1935 will live as one of the most 
curious ironies of modern history. Two months after the 
successful Saar plebiscite, universally hailed as a great 
League achievement, Germany began officially to rearm. 
On Easter Day five Roman Catholic cardinals American, 
Irish, French, Austrian, Italian joined in a transoceanic 
broadcast for world peace. In June, eleven and a half million 
people in Great Britain voluntarily voted against war on 
Lord Cecil's famous Peace Ballot, and over ten millions of 
them voted for sanctions, thus unwittingly helping to bring 
Great Britain and Italy to the verge of war. 

In July and August the British fleet assembled in the 
Mediterranean in unprecedented strength, while Mussolini 
was massing troops in Eritrea and in Libya. In September 
the war clouds gathered in Geneva and drifted over most of 
Europe, while further east the guns were actually beginning 
to growl. The Empress Menen of Ethiopia broadcast a 
pathetic appeal to the women of the world from the little 
station outside Addis Ababa, and on October 2 the Duce 
roared his warlike challenge from the balcony of the Palazzo 
Venezia in Rome, while baffled humanity listened at its loud- 
speakers in three continents. Then the storm broke in full 
force over the hapless people of Abyssinia, and since then 
the world has not known a single peaceful month. 

Radio was to bring these hideous events closer to peaceful 
people's homes than they had ever been brought before, 

*Mikeside Seat for the War 

for competitive radio cannot ignore the morbid demands of 
its listeners; and while people moralize about war they listen 
as eagerly as ever to tales of strife. The radio commentator, 
in uniform and gas-mask, may well become a permanent ad- 
junct of future wars, although his activity will be even more 
restricted than that of the newspaper correspondent, because 
his reports can be picked up by the enemy. 

The first attempt in radio history to convey war news plus 
war atmosphere direct from the scene of conflict must be 
credited to Floyd Gibbons, veteran war correspondent, who 
transmitted a commentary from the Manchurian war zone 
in January, 1932, for the N.B.C., which was punctuated by 
the sound of Japanese big guns, much to the delight of the 
accommodating Japs. Now, in Ethiopia, this high-speed, 
battle-scarred radio newshawk was once again in the field, 
beating his nearest competitor (John T. Whitaker, acting on 
my behalf) by three days. I heard him give a graphic ac- 
count of Italian road-building operations near the Eritrean 
frontier which, full of breathless excitement, was an amazing 
performance, considering that it took place at an altitude of 
six thousand feet above the sea. 

Whitaker, however, had already surveyed the Italian war 
zone from the air a month before and had given a gripping 
account of it to our listeners from Rome, where I bade him 
Godspeed on his perilous journey across the Mediterranean, 
up the Nile, and over the mountains of Ethiopia into Asmara, 
undertaken under the auspices of the New York Herald- 
Tribune. Young, impetuous, and adventurous, he was the 
first foreign correspondent to reach the war zone, and was 
privileged to survey it by mule-back, camel-back, motor-car 
and an aeroplane piloted by Mussolini's son-in-law, young 
Count Ciano, whom he described as a daredevil youth and 
4 one of the most likeable men' he had ever known. 'He used 
to fly me out over the Red Sea and drop petrol tins so that we 
could have target practice with machine guns.' x After mak- 
ing his report from Rome late in September, Whitaker was 
back in Asmara on October 25 to transmit a description of the 
operations, and the obliging Count Ciano broadcast some 

1 See John T. Whitaker, Fear Came on Europe , London, 1937. 

zi 8 Hello ^America! 

rather obvious propaganda both for Gibbons and for Whit- 
aker. It was short-waved to Rome and retransmitted to 
America, but owing to static the results were none too good. 


Meantime, however, the Abyssinians* little short-wave 
station near Addis Ababa at an altitude of some nine 
thousand feet operating on the ridiculously low power of 
one kilowatt, had made itself heard throughout the western 
world. Here was a romance of engineering, indeed. The 
Italians, who years ago built this station for the Abyssinians 
merely as a commercial telegraph terminus, little suspected 
that it would one day be used against them by their dusky 
enemies. It had no speech panel and no speech-input ampli- 
fier, though for some remote contingency there was an old- 
fashioned carbon microphone lying about. With this meagre 
equipment a Swedish engineer named Ernst Hammar, em- 
ployed as director of communications by Emperor Haile 
Selassie, managed to rig up something that could actually 
make itself heard, first in London and then in New York. 
Early in the conflict the engineers of the Radio Corporation 
of America tried to get into contact with Hammar, whose 
name discovered by my friend Max Jordan working at 
Geneva for the N.B.C. proved the ethereal password to 
the Ethiopian stronghold. After picking up a talk by Doctor 
Malaku Bayan, a nephew of Haile Selassie, early in Septem- 
ber, and the Empress's appeal three days later, the R.C.A. 
managed to present the Emperor himself in their 'Magic 
Key* program on September 13, after which they made 
Abyssinian facilities available to American broadcasters in 

The first white commentator to report from the station 
was Robinson McLean, correspondent of the Toronto Evening 
Telegram, who spoke for Columbia three days after the 
Emperor; but like that remarkable potentate, he was only 

0x4 *Mikeside Seat for the War 2.19 

partially heard. Nevertheless the account of conditions, 
apparently uncensored, was as graphic as it was revealing, 
and I cannot resist the temptation of reproducing what I, 
sitting at an ordinary set in London, and others sitting at 
their sets all over America, heard on October 16, 1935. 

'On the plains outside of Addis Ababa hundreds of tukuls 
are pitched when the feudal dukes of Ethiopia gather to their 
Emperor. Right now, two miles from this radio station, 
there are thirty-five thousand men under the Dejasmatch 
of Kambata Province. His men are the toughest babies you 
would ever want to see. Though most of them have rifles, 
even the ones with only spears are not the sort of men you 
would like to meet on a dark night on a lonely African hilltop. 

'Tomorrow fifty thousand more brown warriors will pace 
through the streets of Addis Ababa, singing their war songs. 
They are the men of Dejasmatch Gabre Mariam of Walago 
Province, fifteen days' ride from Addis Ababa, and this after- 
noon the Minister of War of Ethiopia put on four European 
uniforms and drove around the city. Soon he will be headed 
for the front with his men two hundred and fifty thousand 
of them. . . . So, tomorrow morning when thousands of brown- 
faced men gather at the foot of the Throne of Judgment in 
the palace in Addis Ababa, in front of the tired little Em- 
peror, and sing their war songs, it will be impressive. To see 
men of sixty wearing spears and swords and guns and acting 
out in pantomime the way in which they will kill their 
enemies is something that sometimes makes little cold 
shivers run up and down your spine. And you don't feel 
much better when you learn that the Government has 
ordered all liquor stores closed to prevent any accident to the 

'The warriors yell their hate at us whenever they pass us 
in the street. Personally, I don't blame them. So far, all the 
whitefaces have brought to Ethiopia is the sewing machine, 
the radio station, the phonograph, and a war, although they 
don't call it a war as yet. So that when someone we 
will say, for example, Private Waldo Mariam from Kambata 
shakes his spear in my face because civilization wouldn't 
give him a gun, and yells that he would like to break me up 

2.2.O Hello ^America! 

and feed me to the birds, I don't blame Private Waldo 
Mariam. On the other hand, Private Waldo Mariam won't 
hurt me if I duck back when he shakes his spear. He just 
laughs all over his big brown face and then goes on singing 
his song the war song of Ethiopia. It goes something like 
this: "Eeya saparack! Ee ya saparack! Asst da lambarackl " 
meaning " Break it up and feed it to the birds ! " That is the 
closest I can come to the words. It doesn't sound like much 
when I sing it, but when you hear seventy-five thousand men 
pouring out their voices in their howl of hate, it makes you 
think that perhaps the Italians are not going to have the 
pushover they expected. 

'Of course it's just a little tin-pot kingdom, lost in the 
African mountains. Of course it's not a real war, because 
these brown men haven't got tanks and airplanes and be- 
cause nobody has declared war. Of course, getting excited 
over a little Italian skirmish in the African mountains is 
rather childish. But I want to tell you a story about a news- 
paper correspondent. 

4 He had gone down into the Ogaden Desert and written 
that Italy was going to have a tough time battling across the 
burning sands and through the malaria-filled swamps. His 
newspaper, after a few days, sent him back a cable telling 
him that their readers, who had seen a real war, did not 
share his excitement. Maybe it isn't real war, but the forts 
he visited had been bombed. Maybe it isn't a real war, but 
when he got that cable from his office he was in hospital with 
malaria, and ten days ago he died. 

'So maybe it's not a real war, and maybe you will pardon 
me for my childish excitement about it. But so far as I can 
see, it doesn't really matter much when men, women, and 
children die whether they are killed in a real war or merely a 
glorious little expedition to bring civilization to a savage tin- 
pot kingdom lost in the African hills. Maybe it's not a real 
war, but this may be the last broadcast from Ethiopia. I 
wouldn't want to have the job the operator of this station 
has, and wake up wondering each morning whether or not 
civilization was going to explode on the roof.' 

While the quality of the transmissions, owing to the poor 

Emperor Hailie Selassie's address to America, seventy-five 

hundred miles away. With him are Josef Israels II and the 

Negus* youngest son 

cMikeside Seat for the War 

equipment, was imperfect, the sensational nature of these 
broadcasts made people strain their ears for every word. 

Conditions were absurdly difficult. There was no * talk- 
back' arrangement, of course, no radio telephone, and in- 
structions had to be given by radiograms, which would some- 
times arrive too late. A broadcast might begin several 
minutes late or early, and night after night I would sit at a 
receiver in London, anxiously waiting for the words to come 
through over the noisy carrier-wave. But Abyssinian clocks 
rarely corresponded with ours; probably they reacted to 
atmospheric conditions at excessive altitudes. And there 
were no means of checking with Greenwich or New York. 

The problem of quality was finally solved by getting the 
co-operation of the Paramount news-reel people, who 
eventually sent their own up-to-date equipment to Addis 
Ababa. Josef Israels 2nd had been placed in charge of our 
interests, while McLean was off somewhere trying to rescue 
his mule caravan in the wilds of Tigre Province; and when 
Haile Selassie was about to leave for the front, Israels in- 
duced him to make a direct talk to the American people in 
which he appealed to them 'unofficially' to boycott the 
aggressor. With the help of Paramount's dynamic micro- 
phone, the ingenious engineer, Hammar, managed to trans- 
mit the Emperor's speech (in Amharic) and Israels's transla- 
tion with such excellent quality that they arrived in New 
York, seventy-five hundred miles away, without a blemish, 
and were heard perfectly throughout America. This was 
later followed by a speech, in good English, from the Em- 
peror's son, the Crown Prince, and further commentaries 
from Israels and McLean, which gave American listeners a 
sense of the more and more hard-pressed Abyssinian people 
and their ultimate doom. The Addis Ababa broadcasts 
altogether covered a period of two months; thanks to 
Israels, more than anyone else, they were a landmark in 
transatlantic broadcasting. 

Hello ^America! 


By way of comic relief to their otherwise unrelieved gloom, 
Israels managed to organize two concerts by Ethiopian 
musicians with native instruments, and the imperial 
Guards Band' playing European martial music by ear. His 
account of the adventure is worthy of perpetuation. Ethio- 
pian musicians were modest as to financial emolument, but 
they required generous libations of the native brandy called 
tej to help them face an audience, seen or unseen. The 
amateur extras, being more cultivated, needed whiskey. 
Both beverages were provided and a first-class ensemble 
turned up at Israels's hotel early in the evening, to be enter- 
tained and then transported six miles to the outlying station 
for rehearsal and the midnight broadcast (5 P.M. in New 

As they seemed unresponsive in the Europeanized sur- 
roundings of the hotel rooms, they were invited to make 
themselves comfortable on the hotel lawn, where a caravan 
had pitched a large tent. Here they squatted, tuned up their 
instruments, took plenty of tej, and were soon singing their 
interminable sagas of love and war and heroism that make 
up the native repertoire by the light of a single candle. 
According to European ideas they were making the night 
hideous with noise. Suddenly, while Israels was at dinner, 
the native police arrived and started to arrest the musicians. 
It was after curfew, when the natives were to be indoors; and 
they had no permits to break the regulations of martial law. 

The radio man, warned, rushed out; it was too late. The 
balambaras ordered a baton charge, and the frightened 
musicians scurried to the four winds. By the time matters 
could be explained to the balambaras, the sixteen musicians 
had fled to sixteen parts of the scattered town. Finally, an 
appeal to the Emperor's chief aide resulted in an order to the 
police to round them up. Not till eleven o'clock that night 
did the official cars begin to arrive, bearing one or two 
musicians at a time, still frightened and in need of further 

a/4 tMiksside Seat for the War 2.2.3 

applications of strong spirits. Three quarters of an hour 
before the broadcast the cavalcade started for the station, 
bumping over deserted roads and frightening hyenas and 
owls from their midnight repasts . . . 

After a twenty-minute rehearsal under the native con- 
ductor, the musicians were properly placed around the floor 
of the little workshop with the microphone. The testing calls 
and English announcements elicited loud guffaws, and 
silence was with difficulty restored. The show started at last, 
but each piece had to be forcibly suppressed when the time 
was up, as Ethiopian musicians, once started, never want to 
stop. When the 'program' was over they were just warming 
up, and went on and on, drifting into the generator room and 
continuing their weird entertainment against the incongru- 
ous background of motors, radio tubes, amplifiers, and con- 
trol panels playing, singing and dancing, black men and 
women, in ever wilder convolutions, through to the early 
hours of the morning. Finally the cavalcade started back 
through the deserted streets of Addis Ababa, past startled 
sentries and packs of roaming dogs, under the tremendously 
brilliant stars of the equatorial sky. 

After two months of broadcasting from Eritrea and 
Ethiopia, American listeners were tired of the subject. 
'Consider we have exhausted broadcastable material/ wired 
my New York office, and we quit. The rainy season set in 
and held up the Italian steam roller for a while. Then, in 
February, it thundered on. In April the advance on Addis 
Ababa began; Emperor Haile Selassie fled, first to Jeru- 
salem, then to Geneva, whence in the following June 
eight months after the war began in earnest we broadcast 
his pathetic appeal against the removal of sanctions. Seven 
weeks earlier, Mussolini, once again addressing a full- 
throated crowd on the Piazza Venezia, had proclaimed tiny 
King Victor Emanuel Emperor of little Haile Selassie's 
empire . . . 

One evening the following winter, while we were rushing in 
and out of Broadcasting House reporting on the abdication 

2.14 Hello ^America! 

crisis, I almost bumped into a small, dark-complexioned, 
bearded man of arresting countenance, very finely chiselled 
features, and high forehead, wearing a long black cape with 
a silver clasp. It was Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia, 
King of Kings, Lion of Judah, etc., etc., who had just broad- 
cast an appeal to America for funds for destitute Abyssinians. 
He was attended by one young Ethiopian and drove off in a 
common taxi, through the murky London night. 


Within a few weeks of Haile Selassie's personal appeal 
before the League of Nations Assembly, when Italian 
journalists distinguished themselves by hooting and whist- 
ling, Hell broke loose in Spain. Franco's troops, in their first 
formidable offensive, were being held at bay near San 
Sebastian by ragged militiamen and undisciplined miners 
from Asturias, who were expert at throwing sticks of dyna- 
mite. Old men, women, and children were streaming across 
the frontier into France, welcomed on the French side of the 
international bridge by cheering crowds of Basques and 
Frenchmen of the newly constituted Popular Front. Im- 
mersed in the for America far more important in- 
tricacies of broadcasting the Olympic Games, I sent my 
Paris man, Didier van Ackere, scurrying down to refugee- 
crowded Hendaye, where he managed to interview a few of 
them before the microphone, thus starting the second series 
of war broadcasts within considerably less than a year. 

By the grace of geography and the friendly French officials 
it was possible, for the first time, to report a war actually in 
progress from the safe vantage-ground of neutral territory. 
As luck would have it, one of Columbia's most experienced 
political commentators, H. V. Kaltenborn, a microphone 
veteran with an astonishingly fluent technique, was avail- 
able, and a few days after the initial Hendaye broadcast he 
made his headquarters in the little French town, dashing now 

*Mikeside Seat for the War 

into loyal, now into insurgent, territory for eye-witness 
material and interviews with the leaders of the most brutal of 
all civil wars. 

As the battle-front approached the frontier town of Irun 
he was able to observe, from the roof of an advantageously 
placed hotel, the actual progress of the righting, even while 
speaking to the peaceful millions at home. Here was an 
unprecedented chance for the radio reporter literally an 
armchair view of the war. Speaking from his rooftop, 
Kaltenborn reported that two Englishmen had their tea while 
watching the bombardment that afternoon. The idea of 
broadcasting a 'running commentary* on the cruelest kind 
of war, just as you do with a football game, was grotesque 
but perfectly feasible, though the opportunity is not very 
likely to occur again. Kaltenborn and his successor kept it 
up for five weeks, with daily fifteen-minute reports at the 
most critical time. He was able to describe the bombardment 
of Fort Guadalupe by two insurgent men-of-war, while it was 
in progress, and to report attack and counterattack near the 
frontier to the sinister sound effects of machine-gun fire and 
the whirring of fighting aeroplanes. 

'We who report the battle/ Americans from New York to 
San Francisco could hear, 'sit in plain view of both forces on 
the terrace of a little village cafe some hundred yards across 
the valley from the combatants. It is so real and yet so 
fantastic that it seems like a battle set up for the moving 

And again: 'In a moment or two, when the machine gun 
which has been barking intermittently all evening sounds 
again, I will stop talking for a moment in order that you 
may get something of the sound of this civil war as it con- 
tinues through the night. This farm is the one most near to 
the fighting scene . . . located some three hundred yards 
from the lines where rebels and government soldiers are 
fighting it out tonight. [Sound of rifle fire.] Those are 
isolated shots which are being exchanged by the front-line 
sentinels on both sides/ 

'We happen to be straight in the line of fire. Fortunately 
for us the bullets are going high. Four times this afternoon, 

2.2.6 Hello ^America! 

while we were waiting for an opportunity to link up with 
New York our wires were cut. And now finally we have put 
the radio machinery inside of a house and I'm standing 
around the corner of the house with the microphone in the 
open, but with a good thick mortar wall between me and the 
bullets that are constantly whizzing past/ 

And so it went on, while the slow and bloody tragedy was 
being enacted to its end. Irun fell on September 4, three days 
before the last talk from Hendaye. 


Soon after this, Franco's Moors were fighting their way 
through the Guadalajara mountain passes and threatening 
the plain of Madrid. Long before, almost simultaneously 
with Hendaye, we started operations in the capital. Condi- 
tions there were indescribable, with a provisional government 
trying to organize an army out of revolutionary elements 
bent on hunting down the enemy within the gates rather than 
obeying military leaders charged with the country's defence. 
No one knew where anybody stood, and the people on whom 
we tried to rely wearing bourgeois clothes were in 
constant danger of their lives. 

Telegraph and telephone were disorganized; censorship 
was brutally and none too discriminatingly enforced. On 
July 28 long before the Madrid offensive began we 
managed to transmit, from EAQ, the only powerful short- 
wave station in Spain, a talk by Ogier Preteceille, a Spanish 
journalist in British employ, who had the confidence of the 
Defense Junta and the trade unions. Senor Preteceille gave a 
talk on the conflict, but it had been so severely censored that 
its only value lay in the fact that it actually came out of em- 
battled Madrid. Getting a direct broadcast at all was indeed 
an achievement, as can be judged from the fact that no one 
else duplicated it till over a month later, when the intrepid 
Floyd Gibbons managed to get himself heard. 

JVLikeside Seat for the War 

Here is just one aspect of the tragic inefficiency imposed by 
circumstances on a revolutionary leadership relying on the 
untutored elements of the population. Distrust of the in- 
tellectual, hostility to the middle class, suspicion of the 
foreigner, all combine to paralyze potential instruments of 
success. Throughout the two first years the Government 
had the advantage in the ether; it had the most powerful 
medium-wave broadcasting stations, at Madrid and Bar- 
celona; it had the only efficient short-wave station at Aran- 
juez near Madrid. The insurgents had only lesser stations, 
chiefly at Saragossa and Seville, and evidently in ex- 
pectation of capturing EAQ had not thought it worth 
while to build a short-wave station which could reach 
distant and oversea lands. 

Yet the Madrid authorities, while using every spare 
minute to broadcast inspired 'bulletins* (which, true or un- 
true, are taken with a large grain of salt), put every possible 
obstacle in the way of neutral reports by friendly foreigners. 
Such reports, especially at the time of Madrid's savage 
bombardment, would have turned a great deal of sympathy 
in the right direction; but an inefficient and unimaginative 
censorship make it impossible for the outside world to get a 
reliable account of events. Since radio reporters, like 
journalists, would obviously resort to 'deferred* eye-witness 
accounts, given over neutral channels outside Spain, the only 
result was that such reports, entirely beyond the Govern- 
ment's control, lacked the dramatic quality which might 
arouse more than casual interest. 

On both sides the broadcast stations were commandeered 
by the authorities for propaganda purposes, while each side 
did its best to 'jam* the other, with minor success. The 
second Madrid station, for instance, tuned its own trans- 
missions to the hostile wave-length of Seville, yet the fan- 
tastic broadcasts of the notorious General Queipo de Llano, 
of the southern rebel army, were picked up almost anywhere, 
except in Madrid, without any trouble. 

As the insurgent armies closed in on Madrid, our problem 
became more difficult. The authorities were, if anything, 
both more inflexible and more dilatory: by the time a broad- 

2.18 Hello ^America! 

cast could be written, censored, and the lines cleared for 
transmission, it would be out of date. The studio building, 
within easy range of bombing planes, became a dangerous 
place; the station itself was within six to eight miles of the 
front, and was probably spared only because the insurgents 
expected to make use of it later. Finally, the lives of the 
journalists and potential broadcasters were in constant peril. 
During the siege of Madrid they worked in the Telefonica, the 
central telegraph exchange, which is the loftiest building in 
Spain. It was struck by shells again and again, and bombs 
fell all around it. Every morning they would drive to the 
front, roam perilously among indistinguishable battle lines, 
and return in the evening to sleep in their embassies. Lester 
Ziffren, of the United Press, records how three journalists 
and two diplomats were captured in one week and he himself 
narrowly escaped being taken, having been warned by a lone 
and straggling militiaman that he was walking into enemy 
lines. 1 No less than six foreign journalists were killed in 
Spain, and several were wounded. 

Yet I managed to speak with Lester Ziffren by telephone 
from London, thanks to the patience and help of the Amer- 
ican diplomatic staffs in both cities, and it was he who finally 
broadcast for us, late in December, when the city was under 
fierce bombardment. To escape a terrific aerial attack such 
as had taken place the previous night, the broadcast had to 
be made from a bomb-proof cellar whose locality could not 
be revealed. 

When Ziffren left Madrid, his place was taken by Philip 
Jordan of the London News Chronicle, who tried again and 
again to broadcast to America from the cellar studio, only to 
find that the technical quality of the transmissions did not 
satisfy the engineers in New York. To me, monitoring the 
tests from London, they were perfectly intelligible; what 
spoiled them for America I am not able to say. 

On the other hand, not only Philip Jordan but Vernon 
Bartlett and Jay Allen were able to give graphic and some- 
times startling accounts of conditions in Spain after personal 
observation, immediately after they reached the safety of 

1 Sec Political Opinion Quarterly y Princeton, New Jersey, 1937. 

*A tMikeside Seat for the War 2.2.9 

Paris, London, or New York. And Bartlett's story of the 
Government's attack on the Alcazar is something he would 
probably not have been allowed to broadcast from Madrid: 

'It certainly is an odd war. The first time I went to 
Toledo, while the Alcazar was being besieged, I met a girl 
with a lot of hand grenades hung around her belt. She took 
me, much against my will, through two smouldering houses 
and up a steep bank into the garden of Alcazar. There was 
only a wall between us and the followers of General Franco, 
who were being besieged inside. She was a Communist and 
talked to me a lot about Karl Marx. I protested she had 
never read anything that gentleman had written. She just 
lugged a hand grenade over the wall and came back to tell 
me that, if I looked on such and such a page of the Spanish 
translation, I should find such and such a statement. Then 
she threw another hand grenade, then she talked about 
Karl Marx again. This went on until, in her excitement 
about politics, one of her grenades came down on our side of 
the wall. After which I decided I wasn't really very in- 
terested in Karl Marx and left, rather in a hurry/ 

And that may be one explanation why the Government 
was not winning the war in 1936. 

Broadcasting has become an important feature of war; 
the radio reporter, as I remarked at the beginning of this 
chapter, has evidently come to stay. At the time of writing 
the predominating scene of the gradually spreading Second 
World War is China, and already the broadcasting organiza- 
tions have been engaged in jockeying for vantage-points from 
which to describe the horrors to their listeners. Short-wave 
transmitters may be set up near battlefields, where the 
authorities with cynical complacency will in all probability 
grant the necessary privilege to broadcast the operations. 

What, we may ask, is the value of all this? Will people 
hearing first-hand accounts of brutal conflict, with the noises 
of battle for realistic effect, grasp the real horror and so have 
their sensibilities roused against war ? Or will war, benefiting 
by this new instrument, thrive on the added publicity, as 
other ' human' manifestations do? No description can equal 

2.30 Hello ^America! 

the realities of organized human slaughter, and it does not 
seem to me that greater familiarity with it will breed any- 
thing but a dangerous contempt. 

With the actual use of radio in war we are not here con- 
cerned, except to point out that, as in all other methods of 
expression and communication, any remaining radio freedom 
in the warring country is immediately suppressed. 



IN THE summer of 1936, when rival forces were spreading 
carnage and terror through Northern Spain, when the 
first miserable contingents of refugees were pouring into 
France, and frightened people everywhere saw rising before 
them the spectre of another European holocaust, two good- 
looking, apparently care-free people in fashionable sports 
attire were romping in the sunshine of the Adriatic Sea. One 
of them was the new King of England and the other an 
American woman, just under middle age, whose name was 
being whispered all over Europe, while her picture was 
prominently displayed in the international press. Famous 
Paris dressmakers competed for the privilege of preparing 
their latest masterpieces for her, and advance copies of their 
designs were being syndicated to Sunday supplements for the 
edification of American girls. 

It was known in the fashionable circles and newspaper 
offices of European capitals that Mrs. Ernest Simpson of 
Baltimore had been the King's favorite for some time. 
Although a divorcee, she had 'officially' dined at Bucking- 
ham Palace a radical break with the rigid rules of the 
British Court under King George V, and a virtual affront to 
the widowed Queen Mary, matriarch of the British royal 
family. To Europeans this seemed to indicate that the 
rigidly Victorian days so incompatible with the freer post- 
war moral concepts were over. To Americans, more 
na'ive and more imaginative, it opened up romantic vistas 
that brought far-away looks into the eyes of shop-girls and 

2.32. Hello ^America! 

debutantes, and heavy returns to popular newspapers in 
search of additional circulation. 

The public in general passed over this seemingly trivial 
subject to the more diverting events on the international 
scene such as the Olympic Games at Berlin, which were 
being broadcast throughout the world for the first time in 
their history, and the preparations for the Inter-American 
Conference, which was expected to fill the American front 
pages for many weeks of the following fall. Nevertheless, 
one or two of the pictures which made their way into the 
European papers, showing a radiantly happy couple rowing 
ashore from their luxurious chartered yacht, or disembarking 
hand in hand, gave thinking people a jolt. 

In Great Britain, however, none of this aroused any gen- 
eral attention, for the simple reason that matters concerning 
the royal family are sacrosanct and not susceptible of the 
usual treatment by the press a voluntary censorship 
maintained in the interest of royal prestige, which is con- 
sidered to be a national asset and a thing above party politics 
and controversy. Moreover, in this particular case the entire 
British press had imposed silence upon itself by virtue of a 
decision of the Newspaper Proprietors' Association, a power- 
ful body controlling all the organs of printed publicity in 
Great Britain. Thus a grotesque situation was brought 
about: the press of the United States and any country that 
might be interested could publish all the details of the in- 
cipient * royal romance/ while the one country most con- 
cerned was kept in utter ignorance of the story that was 
being built up. American papers containing references to the 
affair arrived in England with pages removed or passages 
blacked out by distributors who obeyed the N.P.A. ban. 
No broadcasting organizations in the British Isles or the 
European Continent so much as mentioned the matter in 
their spoken news; nor was it possible, in the circumstances, 
for any American radio reporter to mention it in any trans- 
atlantic broadcast. 

About the middle of October the story had developed to a 
point where scandal in high places was hinted at, and British 
politicians and statesmen especially the Prime Minister 

Ten lights That Shook the ther 

were being bombarded with letters enclosing cuttings from 
American papers and magazines. William Randolph Hearst, 
always more adventurous than his rivals, came out with the 
startling story that the King contemplated marriage with 
Mrs. Simpson a lady still married to another man. 

Thus it happened that the news of Mrs. Simpson's applica- 
tion for divorce, in the middle of October, came as a bomb- 
shell, especially to those who knew what had gone before. 
The English papers printed no details, and when a decree 
nisi was granted on October 27, the bare announcement of it 
in the legal columns escaped the casual reader's notice. 
Once again the B.B.C.'s news department ignored the occur- 
rence, as a matter of course, for no divorce is ever mentioned 
over the British radio, which takes careful account of its 
juvenile listeners. 

But the stream of letters and cuttings sent to government 
people and members of Parliament from abroad increased, 
reaching flood tide in early November. An apparently 
innocent question asked in Parliament about the 'scrutiny* 
of publications imported from the United States was am- 
biguously answered by the President of the Board of Trade; 
but a supplementary question from that fiery atom, Miss 
Ellen Wilkinson, M.P. for Jarrow, startled the usually 
complacent House. 'What is this thing/ Miss Wilkinson 
asked, 'that the British public are not allowed to see?' 

Still the newspaper ban continued to operate, and the 
general public dismissed the matter from its mind. Even the 
sophisticated Londoners contemplated nothing more than a 
discreet court affair, such as the histories of all monarchies 
have recorded through the ages. To continental Europeans, 
used to royal intrigues, and also to morganatic marriages, the 
matter even in its worst aspects had no political importance. 


If, in the meantime, momentous conversations were taking 
place behind the scenes, no one in either England or America 

2.34 Hello ^America! 

was aware of these portentous developments. The world had 
plenty of other things to think about: Italy and Germany 
were defying the League and the Covenant; the three Kings 
of Scandinavia were declaring their solidarity and appealing 
for European peace; President Roosevelt was on his way to 
South America to open the great conference that was to 
establish permanent peace in the western hemisphere. He 
arrived in Buenos Aires on November 30. My New York 
office was cabling me to 'hold down' on European material, 
as all available foreign broadcasting periods would be blank- 
eted by South American reports. 

On the day of the opening of the Inter-American Confer- 
ence, another and very different conference was taking place 
in Bradford, in the English midlands. It was a conference of 
churchmen; and the Bishop of Bradford, Doctor Frank 
Blunt, made a speech which bore out both his names. 
Speaking of King Edward VIII 'a man like ourselves* 
he commended him to God's grace, which he would abun- 
dantly need if he was to do his duty faithfully. 'We hope that 
he is aware of this need,' added the good Bishop. ' Some of us 
wish that he gave more positive signs of his awareness/ 

No churchman had spoken thus about an English king in 
centuries, for no church is more subservient to royalty than 
the Church of England, of which the King is the titular head. 
Nor was this all: the British press almost without exception 
reprinted his words, and many commended him for speaking 
out. It seemed more than likely that the bishop's reprimand 
was inspired. In fact, the hunt was up and at last the 
British press threw reticence to the winds. Only the B.B.C. 
remained silent, and still most people in England didn't know 
what it was all about. The working classes only remembered 
that but a fortnight ago the King had made a sensational 
visit to the distressed areas of South Wales, flouting the 
Conservative Government and taking with him the former 
Commissioner for the Special (anglice Distressed) Areas, 
Mr. Malcolm Stewart, who had resigned because his report 
proved too radical. They had still ringing in their ears his 
words after seeing the destitution in the dead town of Dow- 
lais, to the effect that 'something must be done to find these 

Ten T^ights That Shook the Ether 

people employment/ and his confident promise that 'some- 
thing will be done/ To them he was a hero; a king who would 
champion the cause of the poor, even against Conservative 

Some of them may have remembered how, after an all- 
night parliamentary debate on the eve of that journey, the 
Cabinet had met at six in the morning, an extraordinary 
event, obviously occasioned by the action of the King. 
What they did not know was that on the day before Mr. 
Baldwin, the Prime Minister, had seen the King and learned 
from him his intention to marry Mrs. Simpson as soon as she 
should be free. Nor did they know that another Cabinet 
session, only four days before the Blunt pronouncement, had 
dealt, not as was supposed with the war in Spain, but 
with the crisis arising out of the King's matrimonial plans. 

In fact, the crisis was already coming to a head, although 
the papers were still speaking cryptically of a 'constitutional 
issue' rather than an affair of the heart. Only in America the 
headlines screamed that an American woman was fighting for 
a British crown. On Thursday, December 3, the British 
papers mentioned Mrs. Simpson's name for the first time in 
connection with the crisis, and on that day Mr. Baldwin ad- 
mitted to Parliament that a situation had arisen on which he 
would make a statement as soon as possible. Also, two 
'King's men' had raised their voices in Parliament, namely, 
Colonel Wedgwood and Mr. Winston Churchill, to ask 
ominous questions which hinted that grave decisions were 

The issue from now on was to be fought out openly in the 
newspapers, while weighty but invisible moves were going 
on between the Government, the Church, and the King. 
Broadcasting, it was tacitly understood, was not a fit medium 
to deal with a situation so delicate so far as England was 
concerned; but the question now arose whether American 
broadcasting should, like the newspapers, go 'all out.' In 
Great Britain broadcasting was a monopoly chartered by the 
Crown and licensed by the Government. Any statement 
made concerning a controversy between these two arms of 
the State might give rise to serious difficulties. In America 

2.36 Hello ^America! 

the broadcasting companies were giving out brief bulletins 
under their restrictive agreement with the press, while the 
press was free to indulge in an orgy of prophecy and conjec- 
ture, controversy and sensationalism, without let or hin- 

There was just one way in which the radio could counter 
the advantage of the press, and that was to get material from 
the spot, from England direct. It could do this only with the 
concurrence of the B.B.C. and the British Post Office, which 
controls the European end of the transatlantic telephone. 
Hitherto it had tacitly deferred to the policy of the B.B.C.; 
on the crucial Thursday, when the crisis reached Parliament 
and Mrs. Simpson's name was mentioned in the British 
press, both of the major American chains approached the 
heads of the B.B.C., obtained permission to transmit fair 
comment on the crisis, and within fifteen minutes of each 
other their first broadcasts reached America that afternoon. 

Radio had caught the big story at its flood, and from now 
on millions of eager people in the United States and Canada 
literally hung on their sets with bated breath as it un- 
ravelled, chapter by chapter, a story which raced with in- 
creasing momentum to its dramatic close. Nothing else 
mattered; the great Conference in America, the war in Spain, 
the Pope's illness, some of the worst airplane disasters in 
years only the love story of a King and an American 
woman and their struggle for happiness, against the effulgent 
background of the greatest throne and the oldest tradition 
in the world. 

For the next ten days and nights three American radio 
chains (for the Mutual Broadcasting Company had recently 
entered the international field) sent an aggregate of about 
eighty fifteen-minute commentaries an average of eight a 
day from London, occupying a total air time of over 
twenty hours, an all-time record for any single subject or 
event since international broadcasting began. Most of these 
talks, in order to reach American listeners at convenient 
evening times, had to be made during the night and early 
morning, London time; and the pressure on the technical and 
service staff of the B.B.C. was terrific. Broadcasting House, 

Ten lights That Shook the ther 2.37 

on account of the B.B.C.'s service to Britain's world-encir- 
cling empire, is never asleep; at this time it was a beehive of 
activity all night. 

As for the American broadcasters we practically stood 
on our heads. I have worked in newspaper offices at times of 
crisis, when the strain and confusion seemed unbearable; but 
the downright torture of nervous tension and physical 
fatigue of these ten days and nights had a character of their 
own. Against the sheer labor of persuasion to get the 'big 
shots' to speak at such a time and on such a subject, our 
much-vaunted high-pressure salesmanship was a mere 
parlor game. Some of our 'prospects ' would figuratively bite 
our heads off in their anger or wither us with their righteous 
indignation. The higher they were in the social scale (with a 
few sensible exceptions), the more sacrosanct were the issues 
involved. Fifty telephone calls might be required before one 
speaker was booked. One of them, though in London all the 
time, actually had to be tracked by telephone via Hollywood! 

Yet New York was never satisfied. When we offered a 
prominent M.P., they wanted Winston Churchill; when we 
proposed Lord Beaverbrook they wanted Lord Rothermere 
as well; when we delivered a viscount they wanted an earl, or 
a duke. Lady Astor, on the ocean, was bombarded with 
radio messages. Hardly had we given the latest available 
news in a midnight talk, when they wanted another one at 
4 A.M. even if there was nothing new! The public was wild 
and we were going mad. New York rang up to confirm every 
wild rumor; conservative but reliable information merely 
aroused a suspicion that I was 'slow.' Day after day, night 
after night we kept it up with almost no sleep hunting 
news, hounding speakers, sometimes telling them what to 
say and how to say it; and dickering about terms. A noble 
earl, having settled the business before tea, raised the stakes 
during dinner (my dinner), throwing confusion into the 
night's work. For a week my bed was used not for sleep but 
as a reference shelf, and two telephones were at my elbows 
during meals. 

Each of us (my rivals and myself) were a one-man team 
with a harassed secretary at our elbow, watching the Opposi- 

138 Hello ^America! 

tion as a cat watches a mouse. If we booked a transatlantic 
circuit at 11.30, the Opposition would counter with 11.15, 
scooping us on time if not on facts. The New York-London 
telephone rang and rang finally it just rang to make sure I 
was still awake or alive. 


In telling the story itself, radio could of course do no more 
than duplicate the press, and it wisely confined itself to the 
bare outward facts. In the matter of interpretation, however, 
its limitations proved its strength. To mere speculation and 
sensation-mongering it opposed authoritative analyses of the 
points at issue. It gave the historical background of the 
crisis; interpreted the traditional aspects and the political 
implications; presented the trend of public opinion from day 
to day. It was soon clear which way this opinion was going: 
from ordinary human sympathy with a genuinely beloved 
monarch it passed to condemnation on the basis of moral 
principles and stern judgment on constitutional grounds; 
for, whatever the merits of the sentimental considerations, 
no Englishman could contemplate with equanimity another 
conflict between Parliament and King a conflict won 
after centuries of strife in the fight against James II in 1688. 
Lawyers and historians, sociologists and statesmen, nobles 
and commoners, men and women, parliamentarians of every 
shade were drafted to this task of explanations and inter- 
pretation. It was a job worthy of their mettle; for here was 
an unprecedented situation involving two people belonging 
to two countries whose nationals might well have been at 
verbal loggerheads through a misunderstanding that lay so 
plausibly at hand. 1 

1 Those who assisted in this process of clarification for the American networks 
included the Duchess of Atholl, the Marquis of Lothian, the Marquis of Donegall, 
the Earl of Birkenhead, Lady Reading, Lady Astor, Lady Rhondda, Viscount Cecil 
of Chelwood, Lord Elton, Lord Ponsonby, Lord Strabolgi, Sir Josiah Stamp, 
Sir Frederick Whyte, Sir Alfred Zimmern, Professor Harold Laski, Ellen Wilkinson, 

Ten Rights That Shook the Sther 2139 

One and all these speakers assured their American listeners 
that there was nothing repugnant in the idea of an American 
woman and a commoner on the British throne. Most people 
may have taken this with a large grain of salt; but the fact 
remained that this romantic possibility never entered into 
the argument, for there were other, more weighty, reasons in 
the way. As the case developed through the days, three sim- 
ple points emerged: (i) Mrs. Simpson was not acceptable to 
the British people as their queen; (2) the idea of a morgana- 
tic marriage was repugnant to Anglo-Saxon moral and social 
concepts; and (3) in any conflict between King and Parlia- 
ment, Parliament must prevail. 

The crux of the whole matter lay in point 3, that a constitu- 
tional monarch must be guided by the will of the people, as 
expressed in the advice of his ministers, in all public concerns 
and in the case of a king even his marriage is a public con- 
cern. 'The will of Parliament must prevail/ said Lord 
Ponsonby, a convinced monarchist whose father for a quarter 
of a century had been Queen Victoria's private secretary. 
Harold Laski, Professor of Political Science in London Uni- 
versity, in saying that 'no precedent must be created that 
makes royal authority once more a source of political power 
in the State' merely voiced the opinion of the masses 
throughout Great Britain, as represented by the Labor 
Party in Parliament, whose leaders would have been only 
too glad to condemn the Government. 

It was true that King Edward had shown more sympathy 
with the working classes than that Government; he might 
have been a powerful aid in securing a greater measure of 
social justice for them. But all personal and class considera- 
tions had to be sacrificed for the greater principles of demo- 
cracy. 'It is but a minor cruelty of history that the lives of 
two people should be bruised in the preservation of the de- 
mocratic tradition/ said Philip Jordan in his broadcast 
shortly before the abdication. 'In a world seething with less 

M.P., Vernon Bartlett, Gerald Barry, Hector Bolitho, Alistair Cooke, Frank 
Darvall, John Drinkwater, Joseph Driscoll, Philip Jordan, Commander Stephen 
King-Hall, J. B. Priestley, Cesar Saerchinger, H. Wickham Steed, John Steele, and 
Frederick Voigt. 

140 Hello ^America! 

amiable forms of government we can ill spare a jot or tittle 
of our heritage, and that is the sad truth/ 

In the light of these main points of the controversy the 
question for the King was clear: was he or was he not willing 
to sacrifice his own happiness for the throne, in other words 
his duty, or as the plain man put it, his 'job*? The fact that 
he was not, settled his fate with his subjects, high and low. 
'When we went to war,' said a mob orator in Hyde Park, 
'we were told to leave our homes, our wives, our sweet- 
hearts, everything we had, for the country's good. We did 
it, millions of us. He, the first citizen of the country, isn't 
willing to do even less.' 

As these broadcast talks went across, some voices of dis- 
sent were raised. A Representative asked in Congress of 
all places why the Columbia speakers represented only 
one side, and why the King's side wasn't heard. It was heard; 
but if it wasn't heard more insistently it is simply because 
his side had nothing to say. I myself invited his leading 
champions, Lords Rothermere and Beaverbrook and Mr. 
Winston Churchill, to speak; they one and all refused 
more or less politely. John Drinkwater and J. B. Priestley, 
both professed partisans of the King, had their say. Abdica- 
tion was abhorrent to almost every man who spoke. 

Yet, when the controversy was three or four days old, it 
was almost impossible to find a King's man in London, or in 
the country, and least of all in the streets. 

'What's going to happen?' I asked a laboring man on the 
Sunday of the critical week. 

'He's going to get the sack/ 

'And you think that's just?' 

'Yes, because he's let us down. He ought to be an ex- 
ample to the rest of us, and he's let us down.' 

The day after this typical pronouncement by the man in 
the street, the word ' abdication ' was heard for the first time 
in Parliament. It was spoken by Colonel Wedgwood, whose 
words were lost in the uproar they provoked. From then on 
events galloped to their conclusion. Mr. Baldwin made his 
fateful report in the House; Mr. Churchill, warning against 
irrevocable steps, was shouted down; Mrs. Simpson made 

Ten lights That Shook the Ether 

her equivocal statement in Cannes. On Tuesday the die 
was cast, though Mr. Baldwin's staying for dinner with the 
King and his brothers at Fort Belvedere threw the news- 
papers off their scent. 

On Wednesday the royal family, including Queen Mary, 
assembled at the Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park to 
meet the King, while Cabinet meetings and the comings and 
goings of palace officials indicated that a decision was im- 
minent. The Prime Minister promised a statement for next 
day. According to rumor, only slightly premature, the King 
had already abdicated, and Lord Strabolgi, broadcasting 
to America, forecast the terms of the Act of Parliament, 
conferring the succession on the Duke of York. 'The bill/ 
he added, 'is now ready/ He also forecast its passage by a 
large majority and predicted the King's virtual exile abroad. 
As far as it was permissible, the American public had been 


Yet there was an element of doubt, which would not be 
dispelled till Parliament met. Elaborate arrangements 
the most elaborate machinery ever provided for a single 
event were set up for the flashing of the fateful news. 
The leading American press associations leased open tele- 
phone circuits from London to New York; all cable and wire- 
less telegraphic services were virtually commandeered by 
the press; all other business was suspended for the essential 
part of the day. Wires between Parliament and the news- 
paper offices were doubled and trebled; every great news- 
paper had its own system of signals and messengers, its own 
private tricks in an unprecedented effort to score a beat. 
Presses in New York and all the big cities of America stood 
ready to rush extras to the street. It was the climax to the 
biggest news story since the Armistice in 1918. 

But since the Armistice a new factor had come into the 

Z42. Hello ^America! 

business of distributing news. Broadcasting companies in 
America had two channels through which the decisive news 
of the abdication could come the Press-Radio news 
bureau, which was limited to flashes and brief bulletins, and 
its own representatives on the spot. The rapidity of modern 
news transmission at moments of crisis is almost incredible; 
relays from Parliament to newspaper offices in this instance 
was virtually instantaneous. Yet radio could conceivably 
take this a stage further, for a speaker in London would be 
heard by listeners all over America. However, the speaker 
could not be stationed in Parliament itself, and there were 
several possibilities of delay between that point and the 
radio circuit across the Atlantic. Moreover, it was obviously 
impossible to maintain an open circuit indefinitely; and much 
depended, therefore, upon calculating the correct moment 
when the news would break. The clue was given by Ellen 
Wilkinson, M.P., in her talk on the fateful morning, which 
set the stage for the American audience. 

'What will happen today?' she said. 'The Country is on 
tiptoe, but the House will meet at 2.45 as usual. The Speaker, 
tall, slender and dignified, will go with his Chaplain through 
the lobby. The Chaplain will lead the assembled members 
in prayer, as he does every day. As always, we shall pray for 
our sovereign lord, King Edward, and for the safety and 
welfare of the realm. 

'The Empire is on tiptoe, but the all-important state- 
ment from the Premier will not be made first thing. In the 
words of the hymn, "Crowns and thrones may perish, 
kingdoms rise and fall" but it is the inalienable right of 
the members of the House of Commons to question the 
Ministers about their departments before any other business 
is taken up. 

'The world is on tiptoe, but Mr. Gibson, M.P. for Green- 
wich, will ask Mr. Brown, Minister of Labor, why the un- 
employment benefit of Neal Tonnett, of 160 Ranken Street, 
Greenwich, has been reduced from seventeen shillings to 
nine shillings per week. There are fifty-three questions on the 
paper. All these will be asked before we get to the business 
which is in everyone's mind/ 

Ten lights That Shook the Ether 243 

That, I figured, would be not earlier than 3.30 P.M. 
Actually a few minutes later, Mr. Baldwin, pale and haggard, 
a sealed document in his hand, amid a tense silence, rose 
from his seat, bowed to the Speaker and said: 'A Message 
from His Majesty the King, signed by His Majesty's own 
hand/ At the same moment, approximately, Lord Halifax 
made the same announcement in the House of Lords. 1 
That was the news. 


How could I get that news and get it the moment it hap- 
pened before the big agencies streaked it like lightning to 
all the world ? Obviously there must be some indication 
some unfailing sign as to which way the cat would jump 
even before the Prime Minister opened his mouth. I ob- 
viously can't reveal just what happened in fact I hardly 
know myself, except that I had my scouts at three strategic 
points, and one of them 'came through/ The essential fact 
is that at precisely 3.32 P.M. in London my telephone outside 
our Broadcasting House studio rang, and a voice, having 
identified mine, announced the fact of abdication. The 
terminus of the open circuit to America was but three yards 
away, and I shouted for 'the air/ My colleague in New 
York asked me to stand by, and while the connection with 
master-control, the heart of the broadcasting network, was 
made in New York, I rushed to the microphone, ready to 
shoot. Bulletins on the crisis were being read to the American 
audience at the time, and the announcer in his studio gaily 
went on reading, unconscious of being cut off. In the ex- 
citement no one thought of telling him. The moment I got 
my signal, I was able to announce to the waiting millions 

1 By a curious coincidence, another Lord Halifax, in the seventeenth century, 
played a leading part in the forced abdication (correctly: flight) of James II. And 
chance would have it that Edward VIII left England on December 1 1, the day that 
James II, the only other exiled king in English history, fled the country. 

Z44 Hello ^America! 

that King Edward VIII had abdicated, announce it from the 
very studio from which he had introduced himself to the 
Empire as King. 

In the meantime, over another telephone in Broadcasting 
House, the bulletins giving the actual text of the King's 
message had begun to come in. This, and Mr. Baldwin's 
moving recital of the whole story leading up to this tragic 
end, we read direct to the American listener at the very 
moment that the story was barely arriving in the newspaper 
offices in New York. Listening to the open return circuit 
from New York I heard the announcer reading the Press- 
Radio bulletin announcing the King's abdication twenty 
minutes after I had announced it to the listeners direct. For 
twenty minutes the world outside knew through my words 
alone that King Edward was King no longer. For once, 
radio had ' scooped the world.' 

That night, limp with the reaction from effort and excite- 
ment, I listened at my radio to the sensational burning of 
the Crystal Palace the last gaudy survival from Queen 
Victoria's Jubilee . . . 

King Edward VIII, the only English king in history to 
abdicate voluntarily, had sacrificed his throne for 'the 
woman I love,' and that woman was an American, born in 
a modest Baltimore house, where her mother like thou- 
sands of American mothers with daughters to support 
had kept boarders in less prosperous years. The story was 
almost unbelievably romantic to the simple American 
schoolgirl's mind. Next day the King himself was to con- 
firm it in his own words, broadcast to the four corners of the 
world. Millions in all the continents listened with strangely 
mixed feelings, as the voice of Sir John Reith announced in 
the simplest formula: 'This is Windsor Castle. His Royal 
Highness, Prince Edward . . .' Stripped of his kingly dignity, 
'Prince Edward' once again became the perpetual adolescent 
whose eager, youthful figure had flitted through the illus- 
trated papers for two decades. 

Ten lights That Shook the Ether Z45 


Future generations of visitors to Windsor Castle will be 
shown the room in the Augusta Tower where lovelorn Ed- 
ward bared his heart to the peoples of his Empire. Kings 
had ruled from here through nine centuries conquerors, 
despots, murderers, scholars, saints but none had taken 
his subjects into his confidence before all the world to show 
that he was but a man like the rest of us. 

Three miles away lay Fort Belvedere, that pastoral bower 
where Edward's idyll had ripened into drama. He had left 
the fort in the darkness, shortly before ten, to make probably 
the last broadcast of his career from the ancestral castle 
home whose name was henceforth to be his title. Taking a 
few loose typewritten sheets from his breast pocket, he laid 
them on the table with the microphone and started to make 
last-minute corrections. Attendants, engineers everybody 
left the room; in this historic moment he wanted to be 

'You all know the reason which has impelled me to re- 
nounce the throne. . . . You must believe me when I tell you 
that I found it impossible to carry the heavy burden . . . 
without the woman I love. . . . The other person most nearly 
concerned has tried to the last to persuade me to take a 
different course. . . . 

'And now we all have a new king God bless you all. 

God save the King! ' 

It was all over. Someone opened the door. Smiling in his 
usual cheery manner Edward, a Prince once again, shook 
hands with the broadcasting officials and started to go. 
Turning back for a moment, he saw the crumpled leaves of 
his manuscript lying on the floor. Stooping quickly, he gath- 
ered them up, stuck them in his breast pocket and left. A 
few minutes later a car with three male passengers sped 
through the night toward the south coast to Portsmouth. 
After midnight he was there. In the darkness, deepened by 
an English fog, the grim Destroyer which was to carry King 

Hello ^America! 

Edward into exile crept across to France. Her name was 

The last words spoken to America, before Prince Edward's 
own, were those of a woman. * In a world/ said the Duchess 
of Atholl, 'where only too often a woman has been sacrificed 
to a man's passing fancy, here is a man who has renounced 
the greatest throne in the world for the woman he loves/ 

The story of the crisis started with the words of a bishop; 
it ended with those of an archbishop. What role the Church 
of England played in all this may never be known, but that 
it was not without importance we may be sure. Would the 
Archbishop of Canterbury ever have crowned Mrs. Simpson 
Queen? As the chief spiritual adviser of the royal family he 
was known to have been charged by aging King George to 
admonish the Prince; what was the charge the dying mon- 
arch confided to the kingdom's chief priest ? How far was the 
future of Church and State involved in the crisis, and what 
was the meaning of that strangely timed ' Call to Religion/ 
launched after Edward's departure? 

With the farewell speech Edward had had his say; no one 
felt that it called for a reply. It was the end of a sad story. 
'Let the past bury the past 1 that is what people thought. 
Not so the Archbishop. Using the same medium as the 
King, he broadcast to the world these bitter words: 

'From God he had received a high and sacred trust. Yet, 
by his own will, he has abdicated he has surrendered the 
trust. With characteristic frankness he has told us his 
motive. It was a craving for private happiness. Strange and 
sad it must be that for such a motive, however strongly it 
pressed upon his heart, he should have disappointed hopes 
so high, and abandoned a trust so great/ 

No stranger message, surely, had ever been broadcast; no 
words, however true, that had better have been left unsaid. 



ONE of the grimmer aspects of a radio representative's 
life is competition, still widely credited with being the 
life of trade. Newspaper correspondents take competition 
in their stride; it adds zest to their activity. When they com- 
pete on the same story it is a competition for quality, since 
the same story can be told in a hundred ways; when they 
fight for 'exclusives' it is a battle of wits. Rarely, in the pro- 
cess, does anyone get hurt. In radio, the first kind of competi- 
tion is exhilarating and in the long run results in better 
programs. The second kind, however, often deteriorates in a 
ruthless exploitation of advantage or the most gruelling kind 
of battle against invisible odds. At worst this kind of rivalry 
ends in hard feelings, at best it results in a duplication of 
stunts. In newspaper work the fight is general; in radio it is 
a single combat to the death. It is also more bitter than in 
journalism because the objects are fewer and the defeats 
more spectacular. The battle of wits often becomes a battle 
of tempers a cock-fight in which the victims are normally 
friends. I never had much use for that kind of work, for it 
stultifies the imagination and sharpens one's strategy at the 
expense of creative thinking. But it does from time to time 
result in amusing episodes, and if I recount some of them here 
it is because I thought them amusing and not because I ap- 
prove of the motives and methods which lay behind. 

I first ran up against competition when I heard about the 
Mussolini New Year's broadcast in 1931. Competition gave 
me a few bad nights during the battle for the Pope's first 

Hello ^America! 

broadcast a month later. It made me see red the month 
after that in Ireland, where I went for the 'wearin' of the 

I had had the bright idea to broadcast a Saint Patrick's 
Day speech by President Cosgrave, and after some compli- 
cated negotiations the matter was arranged. Just two 
months before the great day, I received an official letter 
from the Irish Foreign Minister telling me that 'the Presi- 
dent has much pleasure in accepting the invitation to broad- 
cast/ I was elated until, some ten days before Saint Pat- 
rick's Day, New York warned me that our rivals had sud- 
denly announced a Saint Patrick's Day broadcast also 
from Dublin and also with Cosgrave for the fifteenth 
two days before Saint Patrick's Day! But due protests were 
made through Washington and on the tenth I received a 
reassuring cable from New York: 


Imagine my feelings when, on a chill and foggy March 16, 
I arrived in Kingstown Harbor, and on my way up to Dublin 
in a decrepit boat train saw spread all over the Irish Inde- 
pendent: 'President's Radio Message to America Full 
Text of Yesterday's Speech.' So he'd made it after all! My 
tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth; my breakfast in the 
newly swabbed, wet-smelling dining-room of the Gresham 
Hotel tasted like gall. Swearing vengeance, I drove in a 
rickety taxi to the Government Buildings to learn what? 
That the President was very, very sorry, but had been told 
that the talk he had made was just an internal affair a 
'greeting to the Chicago World's Fair and the Chicago 
Tribune,' and so he thought it wouldn't pre-empt my un- 
doubted claim to the President's first message to the Ameri- 
can people. Moreover, my competitor had arrived in the 
company of the American Minister, and how could an Irish 
President refuse anything to the American Minister (then 
the only foreign diplomat in Dublin) ? I saw it all it was 
just Ireland and, worst of all, my 'competitor' was no 

Competition is the Life of T$adio 2.49 

other than dear old John Steele, correspondent of the Chi- 
cago Tribune, acting under orders and entirely innocent of 
the mess. 1 

What's done is done, and there was nothing for it but to 
grin and let the President talk again, on this fine Saint Pat- 
rick's Day, for the sun had now begun to make a feeble 
effort to pierce the gray sky. I bought myself a Shamrock 
from a ragged colleen on O'Connell Street and watched the 
entire Irish Army parade across College Green, which made 
me long for a real Saint Patrick's Day parade on Fifth 
Avenue, New York. Cosgrave, a colorless little man who 
looked rather like a dry-goods clerk, except for a sign reading 
'President' in Gaelic and English on his office partition, 
made an inconsequential speech, calmly ignoring his previous 
one and saying that this was 'the first time in history that 
the head of an independent Irish government could have 
the privilege on Saint Patrick's Day of addressing you from 
the Government Buildings in Dublin ' which was of course 
the letter of the truth. And he ended up by ' evoking memo- 
ries ' in the accepted manner, not forgetting the Battle of the 
Boyne, Saint Patrick, and the rest. If it wasn't his first 
broadcast, it was certainly his last, for a few months later 
Eamon de Valera swept him out of power. Needless to say, I 
booked the redoubtable revolutionary for the following Saint 
Patrick's Day, with due precautions against 'horners-in/ 


That autumn Pierre Laval, Prime Minister of France and 
one of the wiliest politicians that ever walked, was to make 
his famous * buccaneering trip' (in Stephen King-Hall's 
phrase) to Washington. I felt I ought to try to get a broad- 
cast from him on the eve of sailing with his attractive olive- 
skinned daughter Jose. I flew to Paris and began the usual 

1 John Steele is now the London representative of the Mutual Broadcasting 

150 Hello ^America! 

round of harangues in official quarters, to set the machinery 
in motion. Politicians of all shades, from Marin to Chau- 
temps, were buzzing back and forth, and going into tail 
spins in the vicinity of Laval's office, the Ministry of the In- 
terior. No special broadcast could be made, Monsieur le 
President was much too busy getting ready for President 
Hoover, and in the end it was arranged to broadcast a 
speech which he would make to the world's press, whose 
representatives he was receiving at the Ministry on the eve 
of his tour. That, being in the nature of an official occasion, 
had to be shared by the two American radio companies, 
and * neutral' Ralph Heinzen, of the United Press, was to 
read a translation, since Laval didn't speak anything but 
French. Faute de mieux, we acquiesced. I was assured that 
the technical arrangements would be made. 

Thursday evening arrived; the entrance halls of the Min- 
istry were a human anthill. Chattering journalists, news- 
reel people, politicians, and a nondescript mob of hangers-on 
made it impossible to move. Nobody to take a message, 
and the broadcast only half an hour away. At last I spied 
a French radio man; apparently there would be a broadcast, 
but he didn't know when. Time was nothing to him; a 
speech by the Premier would be taken when it happened, 
like a shower of rain. American broadcasting was run dif- 
ferently; they would 'take' the Premier at thirty seconds 
after half-past six, or not at all. 

I finally charged through the crowd and into the office 
of the chef de cabinet. Oh, everything would be ready, he 
opined. There was the gentleman making the translation 
now! So even the translation wasn't done; and Monsieur 
Rueff, an economic expert with some knowledge of English, 
was working on page one. 'Ah!' he said when he spied me. 
'An American. Perhaps Monsieur will help?' We set to, 
working a mile a minute, on alternate pages. Meantime 
Laval had arrived; I rushed in, translation in hand, while 
cameras clicked and Kleig lights were trained on the swarthy 
and perspiring statesman. The noise and confusion were 
awful; I ducked through the crowd, reached Laval's desk, 
raised my hand to stop the talking, and announced His Excel- 

Competition is the Life of T^adio 

lency, the French Prime Minister. Everything happened in 
the nick of time, or just after. ' Comme toujours,' coolly 
remarked a Frenchman, standing near-by. And after all 
that heroic effort, not even an 'exclusive!' 

Well, next day, I was sailing with Laval and a group of 
American and French journalists in the lie de France. I 
determined to make one more try from aboard ship. An 
exclusive mid-ocean radio talk would be * something/ 
Watching my chances, I sat in on the daily press conferences 
which the wily French politician used to hold in his presi- 
dential suite, always wearing his white lawn necktie and 
grinning at us through his gnarled, tobacco-stained teeth. 
There was something strangely oriental about this son of 
the South. 

'What earthly connection is there between the war debts 
and disarmament? 1 he used to ask, with an ingenuous air. 
Til tell you what/ he said one day. 'Til get France to pay 
the American debt, if you'll get Mr. Hoover to abolish pro- 
hibition/ (Laval hailed from a wine region, so this was a 
good joke.) And then he would pour us champagne from a 
magnum, but never take any himself. Meantime I was 
exchanging messages with New York and getting chummy 
with the wireless operators up on the hurricane deck. These 
optimistic Frenchmen were sure their radio-telephone equip- 
ment could transmit the proposed broadcast to New York 
when we were within a day of the American shore. But they 
forgot to mention that their 'microphone' was just an 
adapted telephone mouthpiece. 

Laval was ready to talk to greet the American people 
as a 'messenger of peace/ come to help 'ward off the dangers 
which menace civilization/ We set the broadcast for ten 
o'clock at night, ship's time, and started to make tests. Up 
in the wireless room I shouted into the mouthpiece, trying 
to get myself heard by the American engineers: 'This is the 
lie de France calling WABC, New York/ 'Hello WABC, 
hello W2XE, hello WLA and the rest!' No answer. They 
put on all their 'juice'; so did I. Finally I had none left; I 
was too hoarse to talk. It was a heartbreak. Morse mes- 
sages came in to say New York couldn't hear us. I gave it up. 

Hello ^America! 

Meantime Old Man Competition had raised his head. Half 
way across, the Opposition, knowing I was aboard, had ap- 
pointed the press agent of the line also aboard their 
representative. He told me so himself. Realizing that the 
ship's wireless outfit was too weak, the Opposition had 
loaded a short-wave transmitter on a seagoing tug, and 
while I was up in the wireless room we picked up their mes- 
sages to the ship and to the shore. To the captain of the 
ship they wirelessed their intention to come aboard and 
transmit the Premier's speech; to their home office they sent 
dramatic reports like 'Plowing through heavy seas' (the 
weather was calm and the moon bright) ' Going strong, 
now in touch with tie 1 'All well, ought to reach tie at 
1 1 P.M.' and so on. I raced up to the bridge and found 
the Captain, Commandant Blancart, a large, full-bearded 
Frenchman, in a great state. 'That tug,' I said, 'is going to 
cause a lot of trouble, I'm afraid. When do you think they'll 
reach us?' 

He went over to his map and showed me the position of 
the enemy; then, calculating for a minute, he said: 'They 
can't be here much before midnight, and I'm not going to 
wait up. We have to dock early in the morning I want 
some sleep.' Finally he said, categorically, that he would let 
no one come aboard. I sent a message to Laval that the 
broadcast was off. He was relieved; his minions closed in on 
him and put him to bed. 

About midnight, the ship slowed down; we looked over 
the side and there was the tug. 'Throw us a ladder!' they 
cried. 'Nothing doing,' we shouted back. ' Captain's orders, 
no one on board.' And so they steamed away. I don't know 
what it cost to send that tug, but it wasn't worth two cents. 

Next morning we were all taken off by the government tug 
Macon, had a microphone shoved up to our faces at the 
Battery, and then watched Laval's reception at City Hall, 
where the Honorable Hector Fuller, the mayor's official glad- 
hander, announced him as 'Paul Laval' and the French 
Ambassador as ' Pierre Claudel,' thus giving Mayor Jimmie 
Walker a wise-cracking chance to put things right. From 
the gallery of the City Hall chamber, an excruciatingly funny 

Competition is the Life of T$adio 2.53 

brass band played ' See the Conquering Hero Comes/ while 
Laval with his daughter, looking like a gangster at his wed- 
ding, marched up the aisle. It was my first taste of America 
in seven years, and I was dazed. 

The principle of competition having now been firmly estab- 
lished in transatlantic broadcasting, the Opposition got ready 
to swing out. When Fred Wile and myself arrived in Geneva 
for the Disarmament Conference the following January, we 
found them on the battle-ground, three strong. Doctor 
Max Jordan, former German newspaperman in Wash- 
ington, a tremendously informed, hard-working, polyglot 
globe trotter, had been assigned to the Central European 
field by the N.B.C., while an equally formidable competitor, 
the suave and convivial Fred Bate, was being put in charge 
at London, where he was accredited in the highest social 

This was good news; as a friend of mine put it, it meant 
a 'job insurance* for me. It also kept me from putting on 
unnecessary fat. In Geneva Max proved a cheery soul and 
a good sport, and we had great fun gunning for exclusives 
among the world's eminent statesmen then assembled in the 
League capital. One of them, Andre Tardieu, we actually 
had to share, because he wouldn't talk for less than all of 
America, which took the joy out of it for Max. Since Tardieu 
was springing his famous idea for a League air force, it was 
just as well that all America heard what the French had in 
store for us (but they couldn't see the tongue in his cheek). 


Max and I were both resting from our labors at Montreux, 
where the International Broadcasting Union was holding its 
summer conference, when the genius of Competition played 
one of his most absurd tricks. 'Exclusivity' had become a 

X54 Hello ^America! 

fetish by then: a broadcast, however important or interesting, 
was only half a trick if it was not exclusive. We had both 
done a bit of excluding, and to the European broadcasting 
officials we had become a standing joke. At Montreux they 
eyed us with amused astonishment when they saw us eating 
lunch actually at the same table. I was just gloating 
over having landed the first exclusive broadcast by President 
Masaryk, one of the grand old men of Europe, on Wash- 
ington's Birthday (see Chapter VII), when I was handed 
this cable from New York: 


I assumed my best poker face and pocketed the cable with 
affected nonchalance. This was Thursday. The next Orient 
Express passed through Montreux about 6 A.M. Saturday; 
that would give me time to get a 'pinch-hitter' to Montreux 
to attend meetings and watch Max. I sent the wire giving 
my schedule and went about the business of booking trans- 
portation. The florid- faced hall porter of the Montreux Pal- 
ace Hotel yanked out timetables and began to think out 
loud, and his stentorian thoughts echoed from the marble 
slabs and mirrors of the hall. ' For the holy cause of Swiss 
tourism, shut up!' I said. 'I'm not anxious for the world to 
know where I'm going.' 

' Par 'don , monsieur!' he cried, and turning around to a 
huge blackboard, he chalked 5 A.M. next to my name and the 
number of my room. Discretion was clearly not his specialty; 
I made him rub out that tell-tale memo just in time. Max 
was swinging through the doors for the afternoon meeting. 
I tried not to leave him out of my sight; I knew of course 
that we had an exclusive agreement, but the question was, 
did the Rumanians know it, and if so, did they know the 
meaning of the word? I also knew that as soon as C.B.S. 

Competition is the Life of T^adio 

publicized the proposed broadcast, N.B.C. would tip off 

Next morning, at the meeting of the program commission 
I suddenly noticed that Max wasn't there. Remembering 
that the only Rumanian at the Conference was an engineer, 
I strolled over into the Technical Section and there ye 
gods and little fishes! was Max in earnest conclave with 
that Rumanian! After lunch I walked over to the post office 
to book a call to Bucharest, and casually asked whether the 
other gentleman's call had come through all right. Yes, said 
the official, the gentleman talked to the Palace. 

That was a lovely afternoon . . . 

We sat up late. Max didn't go to his room till after mid- 
night, so I didn't either. I winked at the porter as I went 
upstairs four and a half hours to train time. And then I 
packed. It seemed as though I had just dropped to sleep 
when a terrific commotion in my room awoke me: I thought 
there was a fire. But it was only the night porter in a panic, 
shouting that it was ten minutes to six. Never before or 
since have I seen an individual so steamed up. I would insist 
on having that chalked memorandum rubbed out. How can 
a Swiss night porter remember to wake anybody without 
seeing the order in chalk? 

He threw my night clothes into the bag as I took them off. 
I raced downstairs after him as I tied my tie. He was splut- 
tering excuses all the way and had a taxi at the door. * Don't 
pay him, don't pay him!' he shouted. 'It's my fault!' Only 
then did I realize how distressed he was. 

The taxi crossed the railway track just before the bars went 
down, and raced alongside the incoming train as it pulled up 
to the platform. The sleeping-car porter pulled me aboard 
while my bags were thrown after me. In another minute I 
was speeding along toward the Simplon Pass; I tied my shoe- 
lace, felt myself all over, and found I was intact. Anyhow, 
it would be hours before Max found out I'd gone. 

Italy was hot, but the Italian breakfast was a comfort: 
Milan, Venice, Udine then next day a bit of Yugoslavia 
(where the frontier police liked my cigarettes so much they 
decided to take a ride to the next town in my compart- 

Hello ^America! 

ment). Then came Belgrade, where they murdered a king 
and queen in their beds before the war, and then Rumania, 
where the former Boy King was now the Crown Prince, and 
his father after having been chucked out of England 
the King. And America wanted to hear him broadcast: a 
crazy world! 

Bucharest was hot and dusty a half-finished southern 
metropolis, with white art nouveau buildings and shabby 
palms in the littered parks. Its nickname, the Paris of the 
Balkans, was hard on Paris or the Balkans. The royal 
palace was having a new wing added to it, and the scaffold- 
ings looked very ugly. The town's best hotel, the Athenee 
Palace, was a cheerless, jerry-built place, but its women were 
definitely handsome. They say that the porters usually ask 
you whether you want a room with or without. But I was 
arriving too early in the morning. 

My first call was on the Director of Broadcasting, who had 
gone out for a long shave; he came back at last, looking as 
though he needed another. He professed complete ignorance 
about the King's broadcast, having received some warning 
cables, as it developed later. The Foreign Office was more 
encouraging, but there was a ministerial crisis on, and things 
were hectic. Nevertheless, the King would speak; of course, 
he hadn't had time to prepare a speech as yet. They 
were charming people, those under-secretaries, but they 
hadn't the faintest idea how a broadcast was engineered. 
Nor could they control the broadcasting head. 

So I went to the head of the telephone company, a hearty 
and hefty American named Ogilvie, who was fighting a great 
battle to make Rumanian telephones work; hitherto they 
had been an expensive but dubious ornament. Now the 
King had granted Ogilvie's company a private concession, 
which was anything but popular with the local grafters. 
Ogilvie had actually been ordered to run lines from the 
broadcasting station to the Palace, but didn't know for 
whom, as he had had a wire to say that Max Jordan was on 
his way. 

So my worst fears were realized. Max, as soon as he dis- 
covered I had left Montreux had jumped on the next train 

Competition is the Life of T$adio 

for the 24-hour journey to Bucharest. It pulled into the 
station six hours after mine! 

I raced back to the Foreign Office. 'Is this an exclusive 
broadcast or isn't it?' I asked. It was, so Under-Secretary 
Filotti informed me, and he would stand by it. But my sus- 
picions were right; they didn't know the meaning of the 
word! He called the King's private secretary, the chief of 
the palace, everybody who counted except the broad- 
casting director. But there was that crisis; the King was 
righting the ministers, Queen Marie was fighting the King, 
Madame Lupescu was fighting Queen Marie, and the poli- 
ticians were fighting each other. Nobody was any surer of 
his job than I was of my broadcast; in fact, next day the 
cabinet was 'reconstructed* and I saw the amusing spec- 
tacle of one foreign minister taking over, with polite speeches 
and elaborate bows, from his predecessor, whom no doubt 
he had been knifing until a few hours ago. Meantime, in the 
Athenee Palace the porter rubbed his hands as usual and 
the beauteous denizens would ride down in the lift, casting 
handsome looks at you over a rakishly dipped cigarette. 
They were the most aristocratic cocottes in Europe, with 
plausible hopes of making good in a big way. I was in the 

Max, as soon as he arrived, concentrated his efforts on 
the broadcasting director, while I stuck to the dapper dip- 
lomats at the Foreign Office. Finally I got an interview with 
the King's secretary at the palace. That was quite a proce- 
dure. You gave up your card to a sentry at the postern gate. 
The sentry handed it to a gatekeeper. The gatekeeper tele- 
phoned to a flunky at the palace entrance, who checked with 
the secretaries inside. Finally word came back, you got a 
pass, and then traversed the long courtyards where, when- 
ever challenged, you showed your pass. 

I waited in an ornate waiting-room, where two officials 
were ahead of me. They were talking excitedly, but my 
Rumanian was too sketchy to catch anything, so I looked 
out of the palace window onto the square. There were 
plenty of soldiers; I had never felt so royal before. Sud- 
denly my two companions stood up, muttering ' Regelej and 

2.58 Hello ^America! 

I saw King Carol, in a white uniform, passing our door. He 
looked sullen and determined; I somehow felt he wasn't 
thinking about that broadcast speech. But his secretary 
was courteous, as royal secretaries are, actually showed me 
a draft of the speech, and said that if I'd come back at six 
he would have definite word for me. At six, when I got 
back, he was gone had been gone for an hour and had 
no thought of returning. Rumania! 

At the Foreign Office things looked very quiet indeed. 
My friend the Under-Secretary, considerably perturbed, 
said the King had left. 'Left? For where?' For the coun- 
try. I guessed the right answer. But next day the anni- 
versary day, the day I saw Carol come out on the balcony 
to acknowledge the cheers of a crowd, assembled, with 
plenty of military and flags, to celebrate his accession day. 
He was 'gone,' however, so far as we were concerned, and 
that day he rode out of the palace to Sinaia, his country 
residence, where Madame Lupescu was said to be awaiting 
him. It was about 98 in the shade. 


When I got back to the hotel for dinner I found Max in 
the dining-room, and we ate together. On the advice of the 
honest Ogilvie I had already proposed to him a united front. 
' I hate to see two perfectly good Americans being given the 
run-around by these dagoes/ Ogilvie had said in good Amer- 
ican slang. 'Can't you see they're just playing you for a 
pair of suckers? Why don't you make a truce and end the 
agony ? ' 

I saw that he was right; but Max, who among other ad- 
vantages had special lines to Queen Marie, was undecided. 
He was getting daily cables and telephone calls from New 
York. So was I, incidentally, and the night porter would 
get them mixed up, so we had to pass the lines to each other. 
Even then we could almost hear each other's conversations, 

Competition is the Life of T$adio 

what with the prehistoric telephones and the lath-and-plaster 

Now, at dinner, I returned to the subject of the truce. 
'Do you know/ I said, 'that Carol has left for the country?' 

'Stop your fooling/ he said; but on my advice he went out 
ro check up with his contact, the broadcasting director. 
Only an hour before, this worthy had been telling him that 
I had offered him a price for the broadcast, and asked 
whether he was inclined to raise the bid! Max came back 
crestfallen, and ready to sign. The American Minister 
wouldn't be party to the contract, but procured the Ameri- 
can secretary of the Y.M.C.A. I worded the truce to the 
effect that if and when King Carol should broadcast, it 
should be for both American networks, with neither's name 
mentioned. We also wrote an introduction which the 
Y.M.C.A. man should use verbatim, in case the broadcast 
ever came off. It never did. 

Next day we invited the Director of Broadcasting out to 
lunch, in a luxurious open-air restaurant, where the food 
was Bucharest's best and the champagne French ---- He 
hasn't got over this sample of American competition yet. 
Then we booked a joint sleeper on the northern route of the 
Orient and left Bucharest in glee. We crossed the border 
into Hungary in^the middle of the night, but Rumania was 
still with us, as I shall now relate. 

When I came to dress, I found my shirt gone, with a fine 
pair of specially made cufflinks; it had hung next to the open 
window through the torrid Balkan night. If my shirt was 
gone my coat must be gone, thought I, for I had hung it 
on top. It was; and everything inside it. Only the trousers 
were there, securely fastened by their suspenders. In them 
thank Heaven was my wallet. And the porter had our 

'What on earth has happened to my clothes?' I stormed 
at him. 

'Excuse me, gentleman/ he said, 'but it must be thieves. 
It happens all the time on this line.' I vaguely remembered 
about train burglars, with their long hooks reaching into 
windows from the roofs. 

2.60 Hello ^America! 

'Then why on earth don't you put up a sign? "Beware 
of thieves"?' 

'Oh we couldn't do that,' he said, shuddering at the 
thought. 'You see the Rumanians, they are so touchy!' 

We had learned many things about the Rumanians, but 
this was a new one. So I arrived in Budapest in a varie- 
gated costume, which, as it turned out, was quite the dernier 
cri in the Hungarian capital. 

As we pulled out of the station, Max and I leaned out of 
the window and saw a man selling hot dogs. On his tank 
hung the name of his firm 'Picar.' We both started to 
speak, and we both stopped ourselves at the same time. 
From that moment I knew that he was after a broadcast of 
Professor Picard, the stratosphere man who was about to 
make his first ascent. So was I. Well, Max won, largely 
because we wouldn't beat the N.B.C. bid. The result was 
that that broadcast cost hundreds more than it should. 
Competition still kept the pots (other people's) boiling. 

Our next king in the line of popularity was Albert of Bel- 
gium, but once again Max and I had to share. We tossed as 
to how we should divide the work; he drew the introduction, 
I the epilogue. It was unexciting. Then, five months later, 
when he wasn't looking, I walked away with King Christian 
of Denmark (and Iceland), and I felt we were square. But 
I had forgotten about Max's pal, who was covering England 
and France. 

The wine harvest in the Bordeaux region was plentiful 
that year; and the end of American prohibition was in sight. 
So we braved the Anti-Saloon League and staged a half-hour 
show from the wine harvest festival at the little town of 
St. Julien. The mayor was master of ceremonies, and Amer- 
icans could hear the rushing of the fresh-pressed wine from 
the great vat. This was so successful that other wine broad- 
casts were in demand. 

So the Marquis de Polignac agreed to do a broadcast on 
champagne, his family being the hereditary producers of a 
famous brand of 'bubbly.' At the last minute, however, he 
decided in favor of the Opposition, for reasons best known 
to himself. Nothing daunted, our Paris man, Percy Noel, 

Competition is the Life of ^adio 2.6 1 

enlisted the Prince Caramay de Chimay, another scion of 
the champagne aristocracy; so they both talked to America 
in English about the joys of drinking, and on the very 
same day. It was a great day for competition and for 


In May, 1936, the great liner Queen Mary made her 
maiden trip. All the three leading American companies had 
carte blanche to broadcast, by means of her very efficient 
transmitter, of course. Each of us had our own crew aboard, 
and there were broadcasts every day several of them. 
The B.B.C. was in full charge and gave everybody first-class 
service, without favoritism, and with great good will. 

My program was fixed long before the ship sailed; it con- 
sisted of a daily broadcast, always at the same hour by 
American time, but each day a different hour by the ship's 
clock. So we could have programs at bedtime, just before 
the 'night-cap/ at dancing time, at lounging time (during 
the auction pool), and finally at dinner with a daily change 
of scene. Everything was known; only one trick we kept up 
our sleeve a broadcast on the morning of arrival, when 
two American air liners would circle over the ship with 
American notables aboard, who would talk to their col- 
leagues or 'opposite numbers' on the ship, while the whole 
show was being stage-managed from the shore. So Lily Pons 
talked to a singer aboard the ship, a United States Govern- 
ment representative exchanged greetings with a British 
M.P., an American boy scout conversed with a British boy 
scout, Captain Rickenbacker spoke with a brother aviator, 
and the Honorable Grover Whalen on behalf of the City of 
New York welcomed Sir Edgar Britain, the Captain, to the 
port. (When the announcer on the bridge, having heard this 
welcome speech, asked Sir Edgar to reply, the Captain whis- 
pered audibly, 'And who is Grover Whalen ? ') It was a show 
after the stunt broadcaster's heart. 

z6x Hello ^America! 

But the climax was to come a few hours later, as the ship 
was majestically steaming up the bay. It was to be a really 
royal welcome, such as no new ship had ever received in 
New York or anywhere else. Moreover, the British public 
was to hear America's enthusiasm something so wild that 
no Englishman could imagine it. For the first time in Brit- 
ish maritime history would it be possible to let the people on 
both sides of the Atlantic in on this picturesque triumph of 
Anglo-American good will. The B.B.C., alive to its respon- 
sibility, sent along George Blake, one of its star commenta- 
tors, who had known the Queen Mary from her birth and had 
broadcast her launching. Blake had never seen New 
York, but had dreamed of the fabled beauty of its skyline 
and the riotous scene that awaited the Queen. He brushed 
up his vocabulary and braced himself for the greatest 
descriptive improvisation of his career. 

The two leading American networks were to share this 
program with the B.B.C., while each was to contribute 
something from the shore from airplanes and skyscraper- 
tops and other vantage-points. Then, after a half hour or 
so, each was to continue with its own supplementary show. 

While we were slowly gliding through the sun-bathed 
waters of the harbor, bedlam was let loose. Sirens shrieked, 
guns fired salutes, jets of water shot up from fireboats, air- 
planes circled, swooped, and dived, thousands of flags and 
multicolored bunting broke from hundreds of masts a 
truly unforgettable sight. High up on the hurricane deck 
stood Blake, and one of England's crack announcers, John 
Snagge. The great moment of the broadcast arrived, and 
Snagge shouted his hello's to the A.T. & T. engineers, just as 
I had done from the He three years before and with as 
much effect. No answer. Blake, like a thoroughbred, was 
rearing to go. No answer and panic came into the burly 
Scotsman's eyes. At last Snagge's earphones came to life, 
but only to say that the circuit he was* <speaking on had 
been cancelled. No one knew why, or by whom. 

Wild-eyed, we scouted around the decks, and discovered 
that there was indeed another microphone, one deck below, 
which was connected up to a small short-wave transmitter, 

Competition is the Life of 'Radio 163 

brought aboard at Quarantine by one of the rival networks. 
And this short-wave circuit was working beautifully. But 
instead of Blake's inspired first impression, British and 
American listeners were having read to them a prefabricated 
script describing a scene which couldn't fail to be true to 

I have never seen such furious indignation as the faces of 
those frustrated Britons showed. Knowing our American 
propensities for stealing marches on each other, they sus- 
pected that they the neutrals had been outflanked. 
Well, George Blake was given a few minutes, by way of con- 
solation prize, to vent his remaining eloquence on the Hud- 
son River front, but of course he hadn't come all those three 
thousand miles for that! I don't know exactly what hap- 
pened to this day, nor what anybody gained. But Old Man 
Competition was somewhere on the side-lines, no doubt, 
playing his tricks. 

I have a notion that that particular line of competitive 
horse-play is practically played out. American radio has 
more important things to think about. There are times when 
co-operation is worth more than competition, and in any case 
the public is better served when broadcasters get together 
for the good of the job. 

My mind goes back to 1934 and the funeral of King Albert 
of the Belgians. The broadcasting authorities at Brussels 
were using all the available equipment for French and Flem- 
ish commentaries along the lengthy route; no facilities for 
an English commentary were available. Nevertheless the 
broadcast was being 'piped' to London and thence to Amer- 
ica, for the benefit of England and the two American chains. 
I listened to the preliminaries, the solemn music, the muffled 
drums, the booming of the guns, the commentary of the 
French announcer describing a very moving, impressive 
scene. I realized how much more impressive it would be to 
American listeners if we could insert an English translation 
in the intervals, against the background of the music and 
the marching feet. 

I appealed to officials, got the consent of both American 
networks, and had an additional speech circuit, originating 

Hello ^America! 

in a London studio, inserted so as to feed into the circuit 
from Brussels. Then, for nearly two hours, listening to the 
Brussels commentator on earphones, I gave American lis- 
teners a detailed English description of what was going on, 
until the King's body had been lowered into the crypt. The 
trick worked perfectly even the newspapers wanted to know 
how the 'miracle' happened. Our rivals cabled their thanks. 
For once, two networks had beaten as one for the benefit 
of all. To me that broadcast gave more satisfaction than all 
the 'scoops' of my career. 





WHAT is it about England that makes people either 
love it or hate it? There are no halfway opinions 
about it, no compromises about the Land of Compromise. 
You are either crazy about it or crazy to get away. Nor are 
these sentiments confined to any one aspect the people, 
the scenery, the life, or the climate. You like all these things, 
with the exception of the climate (which you must be born 
to), or you like none. As for the climate, I have heard people 
curse it year in and year out for years, and never leave it 
except for a short spell when it is at its best; others to revel 
in it at its worst; and still others to revel in the fact that they 
can stand it, no matter how bad. 

I have known tourists to land for the first time, intending 
to 'do' England, and then getting away to Paris on the first 
train or plane. I have seen others come here en passant 
and stay a lifetime. I myself came to England on a visit 
during one of those rare early springs when the almond 
blooms peeped over the hedges in March, with the air so 
mild and the countryside so ravishing that I determined to 
come back for good. I have never experienced another such 
spring (which turned out to be nothing short of a hoax), 
but I stayed in England for fourteen years. 

I have never done England as a tourist, but in the course of 
those years I have discovered a great many things by acci- 
dent, and then tried to explain them as phenomena. 'To 
know all is to understand all ' : you can know all of England, 
I have discovered, and understand nothing. 

2.68 Hello ^America! 

Some people can spend a Sunday in London or a week-end 
in the country and find both of them insufferably dull. 
Others will think both of them enchanting, and not know 
why. One visitor will consider London one of the ugliest 
cities on earth; another will fall in love with it at first sight. 
A first-time visitor can be made to boil with rage over the 
' superior ' casualness of the natives; another will discover 
that the English are the politest people in the world, and the 
only ones who know how to leave one alone. To some, their 
clinging to tradition, to custom and 'form,' is just a slow- 
witted inflexibility; to others it is the charm that gives its 
peculiar spice to English life. To some, the apparent contra- 
dictions in English habits and nomenclature are boresome 
affectations; to others, gifted with a sense of the past, they 
supply an inexhaustible subject for inquiry and fanciful 

Why is a chalky upland a 'down/ why do you go 'up' to 
London and 'down* to anywhere else, no matter how high? 
And why, though you travel down to Oxford, does a student 
go 'up/ and why if he doesn't behave himself is he sent 
'down'? Why is Manchester a city and London just 'town' 
(with a ' City ' as its heart) ? You might as well ask why there 
are twelve pence in a shilling instead of a rational ten, and 
why some things are paid in guineas instead of pounds. 
Other European countries humor the tourist by making 
things easy; Englishmen manage to survive by making them 

I soon discovered, in speaking with these visitors, that 
their different attitudes are determined by a difference of 
approach. Many things, irritating or bewildering at first, 
will turn out to be acceptable, because inevitable. Some 
things, on the other hand, though beguiling at first, will 
make you impatient in the end, for they turn out to be un- 
necessary and unnatural. But the first thing to realize is 
that Britain is one of the oldest countries in the world, and 
that the continuity of its civilization is the longest. And 
nearly everything can be explained by reference to history 
or the predestination of nature herself. 

As for England's landscape, its charm is the most difficult 

In Search of England 2.69 

to convey, which largely accounts for the wealth of English 
poetry. It is rarely startling, never sensational; in describing 
it, superlatives are out of place. Switzerland has higher 
mountains, Germany more romantic woods. Italy has 
brighter colors and contrasts, France lovelier rivers and 
plains. America has all of these, and more. But England, 
within its restricted gamut, has greater variety, finer grada- 
tions, more infinite charm. And nowhere has nature been 
so happily nurtured by the hand of man (even though the 
commercial vandal is pursuing his nefarious game). The 
greatest 'art* of England, as one very discerning critic has 
pointed out, is not to be sought on canvases, but in the 
landscape and the gardens of its manors. And the great 
virtue of English architecture is that it conforms to the 
spirit of the land. 

Now, the fascination of English life and the abiding beau- 
ties of the country began to dawn upon me after six or seven 
years. Would it be possible to convey some of these things 
to an audience across the ocean an audience of people 
who trace their culture and to some extent their ancestry 
to this island, a people whose language is similar and whose 
literature is the same, people more receptive than any other 
to the message of England's past ? Thousands of American 
visitors came to England every summer; hundreds of thou- 
sands were planning to come one day; millions would never 
be able to. Could broadcasting, even without television, 
convey something, by way of indemnity, to these? 

I wanted to give them the feel of English life the simple 
charm and the elaborate pompousness of it; the old customs 
and the surviving pageantry; the relics of history and the 
abiding beauties that inspired the poets; the atmosphere of 
the village church and the village pub; the spirit of the 
race as it lives in the folk-music and the madrigals of Tudor 
times; the spirit of the crowd at sport and at play; the 
sanctity of the cathedral service and the vulgar jollity of 
Blackpool. These things have their parallel in both countries 
in any country but how different their manifestations! 
Men prate about the 'common heritage/ about similarity 
and cousinship; to aid understanding, you must explain not 

2.70 Hello ^America! 

so much the similarities as the differences between peoples. 
To supplement the talks that had gone across the Atlantic 
in the first two years of my activity, a few actual scenes 
would not be out of place. The movies have done a great deal 
but, it seemed to me, they had missed a great chance. 


The first occasion on which American listeners were in 
touch, as it were, with an English crowd was early in 1929, 
when a Queens Hall concert was picked up experimentally 
by the N.B.C. (the first short-wave program on record), 
and a few months later, in July, they were able to participate 
in the Thanksgiving Service for the recovery of King George 
V, which was held in Westminster Abbey. A banquet, given 
in January, 1930, at the Guildhall in London, to the delegates 
to the Naval Conference, must have been the first time 
Americans heard an English toastmaster that flamboyant 
flunky unknown outside the British Empire shout his 
stentorian 'Your Royal Highness, Your Grace, Your Excel- 
lencies, my Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen, pray silence for 
your Chairman, the Right Honorable the Lord Mayor of 
London/ It always creates a sensation among American 
visitors in England, and it must have made a great and pos- 
sibly hilarious impression on thousands of listeners in the 
United States their first taste of real English swank. 

Then came a rebroadcast of a football match the 
national Cup Final at Wembley, and that gave America 
the measure of a British sporting mob. The Derby, broad- 
cast from Epsom Downs, was relayed that year by the two 
leading American networks, and has not missed a single 
year since then, nor has the Oxford-Cambridge boat race, 
which was first relayed to America in 1931. Since then 
America has listened in to tennis at Wimbledon, golf at St. 
Andrews and elsewhere, the Grand National at Aintree, as 
regularly as they listen to their own baseball games and 

The 'ceremony of the keys' at the Tower of London 

A bit of English pageantry which, to the American, is fairyland 

B. B. C. 

In Search of England i.ji 

major sporting events. Sport was the radio listeners' first 
step in the discovery of England. 

Then came something else. The B.B.C. regularly broad- 
cast the 'ceremony of the keys' from the Tower of London, 
and in 1932 this was relayed to America. For six centuries 
in unbroken daily routine a keeper has gone the rounds of 
William the Conqueror's fortress after sunset, to lock the 
ancient gates of the various keeps and walls with old-fash- 
ioned keys. The burglar who would be baffled by any of 
these cumbersome precautions has yet to be discovered; 
yet nightly the solemn top-hatted key man goes on his 
prescribed round, flanked by two yeoman warders, is chal- 
lenged at each gate, while a detachment of guards salutes 
and performs some intricate evolutions. 

'Who goes there?' 

'The keys!' 

'Whose keys?' 

'King George's keys.' 

'God preserve King George!' 

When it's all over the band plays 'God save our gracious 
King,' the keys go to bed, and anybody entering the Tower 
must give the password, as confided to the Lord Mayor over 
the sign-manual of the King. It's one of those marvellous 
games of make-believe that make Britons feel secure by 
binding them to their past and a compliment to their 
histrionic ability, outstanding since the days of Elizabeth. 

To the American this is fairyland; it shows him a side of 
English life that he has seen in picture-books, and which is 
not 'real.' It is difficult for him to accept it as such, but it 
does indicate an ingredient in the national character, the 
love of pageantry and ritual and rural customs that nothing 
on earth would persuade an Englishman to abandon. One 
such custom is the famous Dunmow Flitch trial, which takes 
place each year in the village of Dunmow in Essex, where 
with mock solemnity the gentry ' try' by the rules of evidence 
the claims of married couples to have attained conjugal bliss. 
The prize, if won, is a flitch of bacon. This, too, was relayed 
to America, for it is a true picture of English rural life; 
and so was a scene in a village public house, not more than 

Hello ^America! 

forty-five miles from London, where the characters assemble 
each Saturday night to listen to the wisdom of 'Uppy' 
Andrews, who has never seen a city but can cure warts by 

It may have been rhetorical extravagance, and certainly 
an exaggeration, when an American broadcasting executive 
said that the greatest thing his company had ever done for 
Anglo-American relations was to broadcast the song of an 
English nightingale, but it certainly gave some Americans 
a touch of the magic stillness of an English night in spring. 
At any rate, American radio editors felt justified in voting 
this the most interesting broadcast of the year (1932). The 
B.B.C. began trapping the nightingale's song back in 1926, 
in a Surrey garden, where a well-known lady 'cellist with 
romantic turn of mind had succeeded in stimulating the 
nightingales' ardor with the seductive tones of her instru- 
ment. The bird concert, in turn, lured motorists to the 
locality, whose raucous horns spoilt the fun. The following 
year the B.B.C. engineers chose a secluded wood in Berk- 
shire, where a gramophone proved just as good a decoy. 
Shattering more poetic notions, the birds appeared to like 
jazz as well as Beethoven, and penny whistles as well as 
jazz. The method was to place microphones in the trees, take 
the leads to an amplifier some hundred yards away, and con- 
nect this via a telephone line to the studio. Then, when the 
luring noises awakened response, the operator would warn 
the control engineer in London, who would 'fade down* a 
dance band and 'fade in' the nightingale. 

It occurred to me one day that America has no nightingale, 
and as every English poet from Shakespeare to Shelley 
celebrates its song, Americans might like to hear how it 
sounds. Alas! An amplified nightingale rather exceeds 
expectations the quality of its liquid dulcet tones, as I 
have heard them for many springs outside my cottage win- 
dow, eludes the skill of the engineer. 

In Search of England 2.73 


We were rather more successful with the birds of Words- 
worth's cottage garden in Grasmere, by the side of a lovely 
lake in romantic Westmoreland. It was on the poet's birth- 
day, on April 7, when the flowers in his hillside garden were 
bursting into glory, while the birds that sing in his poems 
intoned the first polyphony of spring. 

The Lake District is distinguished by the fact that it pro- 
duces even more rain than the rest of England; but when the 
sun does break through its mysterious drifting mists, its 
rays are like the laughter of a happy child. It was a perilous 
experiment to transmit the rhapsody of nature herself as 
a background to the nature poet's verse, for nature herself 
was as capricious as the combination of Lakeland and April 
could contrive. 

When I arrived at that delectable hamlet, with its Gothic 
church, its whitewashed inn, and its stone cottages nestling 
against the sweeping moorland slopes, the rain was drenching 
everything and the engineers with their coils of wire and a 
truckful of gear were looking wistfully at the sky. The 
kitchen of eighteenth-century Dove Cottage was our control- 
room, and a fire in the antiquated range the one cheerful 
thing in it. But 'outside' radio engineers are a unique race 
of optimists. Pretty soon they had microphones in three 
rooms of the house, and in various parts of the garden as well; 
and bubbling over with excitement they dropped a pair of 
earphones over my head. 'Do you hear it?' gasped Harvey. 
' Do you hear the bubbling brook? ' By placing a microphone 
in a tree for the birds they had discovered the rustle 
of a garden brook, which to bare human ears was shut off by 
a stone wall. They were as thrilled as children, but the pro- 
blem was: would the rustle sound as poetic as we heard it, 
or would listeners think it was just a noise in the line? In 
the end we had to abandon Wordsworth's brook for the sake 
of Wordsworth's verse. 

Next day we were all set, though it drizzled off and on all 

174 Hello ^America! 

day, and the hooded microphones were dripping rain. The 
church bells, a quarter of a mile away, were to be picked up 
by a microphone on a high telegraph pole by the road, but 
in our excitement we had forgotten the bell-ringers' crew. 
Church service was on, and an hour before the broadcast I 
sneaked down the aisle to where the 'captain* had been 
pointed out: he was doubling in baritone. We did a deal 
between prayers, and the eight men would be on duty after 
the service. (English church bells require one man per 
chime, and their teamwork is a traditional art.) 

And now for the birds! We listened at our earphones; 
they twittered and sang very sweetly before nesting time. 
But the old Lakeland caretaker wasn't satisfied. 'Ye haavn't 
got the throosh,' he said. And where was the thrush? Why 
in the caretaker's garden across the road. What would 
we do? ... Well, fifteen minutes before the broadcast he 
came back and asked us to listen, and there was not one 
but a whole family of thrushes, mingling their notes with 
those of the blackbirds, finches, and larks. Grave as ever, 
he informed us that he had lured them over by spreading 
bread crumbs on Wordsworth's lawn! 

But suddenly we heard too much: a motor car passing the 
house at full speed, then another and another. Nothing was 
audible but the whirr of their motors and the grinding of 
their gears, mounting the hill. Heavens alive, it was Sunday, 
and the trippers were enjoying an evening drive along the 
lakes. Could they be stopped? Was there no police? The 
caretaker's daughter, who up to then had been a nuisance, 
telling us the local scandal which was about Wordsworth 
and his real sweetheart (not his wife), both of whom were 
dead these eighty-five years now bethought herself of a 
good-looking young policeman, and we raced to find him at 
his cottage, taking his Sunday ease. He was the entire police 
force of Grasmere, he confided, as he carefully put on his hel- 
met and tunic. Our strange request was for him to establish 
himself at one fork of the roads and a volunteer at the other, 
to divert the traffic to the highroad. We told him it was for 
Wordsworth's birthday and, law or no law, he did the job. 
Our broadcast was saved, for as we were talking the clouds 

In Search of England 2.75 

were clearing away, and in the west the sun was painting 
them a glowing apricot pink. 

Our program did us proud: we took a Visitor* through the 
house, up to Wordsworth's bedroom, giving on the garden, 
where Ernest de Selincourt read Wordsworth's verses apper- 
taining to the place; we opened up the tree microphones and 
our birds sang their symphony; we switched to the church at 
the end and the chimes rang out sweetly into the stillness of 
the evening, as we painted the landscape in words. Even 
the Lakeland dialect was not missing, for the caretaker also 
had his little say. 

Wordsworth's drawing-room meantime was full of the 
village worthies; they sat still as mice, not even a creaking 
floor board was heard. And I have never seen a prouder lot 
of folks, whose claim to nobility lies in the familiarity with 
a poet's life and work. Only the caretaker's daughter was a 
little sniffy; talking to the B.B.C. driver, she couldn't under- 
stand all that fuss for just fifteen minutes. 'Aye,' said the 
driver, 'but after it rains all day and the sun comes out for 
fifteen minutes, it makes you happy, doesn't it?' 

That was not our first poet's broadcast nor the only 
one. I raked the calendar for centenaries, or jubilees or 
anything, so the 'special events department' in New York 
could be satisfied that the program had news value of a sort. 
We went to Anne Hathaway's cottage in Stratford on Will 
Shakespeare's birthday, and had a caretaker with her 
rich Warwickshire accent explain about the courting settle, 
the rushlights, and Anne's rushbottom bed, and the flowers 
in the garden, every one of which is named in Shakespeare's 
works. We went to Keats' house in Hampstead and read the 
'Ode to a Nightingale' from the room in which it was written, 
and to Lord Tennyson's pretentious neo-Jacobean palace at 
Aldworth, on top of Blackdown, where you look down across 
the Sussex plain as far as Chanctonbury Ring, and the local 
choir sang 'Sweet and Low' among the bracken and the 
heather that Tennyson loved. 

But the most ambitious of our broadcasts, to my mind, was 
the one from Milton's Cottage in Chalfont St. Giles, where 

2.j6 Hello ^America! 

we dramatized a scene from the poet's life, with actors and 
singers, with verses from 'Comus' sung to contemporary 
settings, and accompanied by the instruments of the time. 
The acoustic problems of that broadcast in a low-roofed 
seventeenth-century cottage with a harpsichord and 
strings in one room, actors and singers in another, myself as 
author-producer and monitor, with the engineers in a third, 
was as intricate as anything the B.B.C. does with its famous 
'dramatic panel' and all the modern contraptions of Broad- 
casting House. 

An experience, too, and great fun into the bargain was 
the program we put on for the centenary of Mr. Pickwick. 
It began and ended in Dickens's house in Doughty Street, 
where he started out on his meteoric literary career. Between 
this prologue and epilogue we switched to Broadcasting 
House and made Mr. Pickwick live by means of Clinton- 
Baddeley's dramatization, which is one of the best things of 
its kind. 


But eventually we ran out of anniversaries, so another 
type of atmospheric program had to be devised to convey 
an impression of the English scene. This formula a friend 
of mine called it the 'picture-postcard broadcast' which 
eventually begat a whole progeny of programs designed to 
give American listeners glimpses, in terms of sound, of places 
ranging from the North Cape to Pompeii, and from Cairo to 
Iceland and Seville, was born in the little town of Ripon, in 

Ripon, the second oldest town in England, has one of the 
smallest but most interesting English cathedrals, first built 
by Saint Wilfrid in the seventh century. It is the city for 
which Ripon, Wisconsin, is named and from which it has 
taken its coat of arms. On it is pictured the 'wakeman's' 
horn the wakeman being the prototype of the modern 

In Search of England 2.77 

mayor, whose chief business in the Middle Ages was to guard 
against fires. 'Unless ye Lord keepeth ye Cittie, ye Wake- 
man waketh in vain* is the motto over the town hall; and the 
horn, a replica of the ancient cow-horn, is still blown every 
evening at the town hall, just as curfew is still rung by a 
special curfew bell in the cathedral tower. To complete the 
illusion of antiquity, the 'news/ chiefly official announce- 
ments, is still cried out by a bellman whose hand-bell re- 
sounds in the market place. Ripon was the ideal place for a 
sound-picture and we managed to get it all Cathedral 
choir, bishop, dean, mayor, bellman, curfew, and wakeman's 
horn into a fifteen-minute program a masterpiece of 
compression. There were seven microphone points and a 
control room in the famous Lady Loft: it all worked like a 
charm, and a dog accidentally barking in the market place 
added a poignant note of realism. 

But the preliminaries to that broadcast were anything but 
simple, for the cathedral and the town (i.e., the municipal 
government) were found to be at war. The cathedral re- 
presented gentility, while the town was run by the common 
clay Bottom the Weaver and Snug the Joiner being 
much what they were in Shakespeare's day. Difficult ques- 
tions of precedence arose which were finally settled by a 
small financial transaction, in which the low-comedy charac- 
ters turned out to be the nobility. 

Which reminds me of another broadcast in which the 
question of caste played an important part. The neat, 
Scottish town of Dunfermline, where Andrew Carnegie saw 
the light of day in a miserable two-roomed cottage, now a 
shrine to the city's greatest benefactor, was celebrating the 
philanthropist's centenary. I arranged for a special trans- 
mission from the cottage itself, in which an eminent Ameri- 
can, as well as the mayor of Dunfermline and a certain peer, 
were to provide the oratory. A representative of the noble 
lord, who called on me in London intimated that the mayor 
had better be left out, as his background wasn't appropriate 
to the occasion. I argued for this bit of genuine local color, 
but was sternly voted down. It was embarrassing to tell the 
honest mayor that he wasn't on the program after all, but 

2.7 8 Hello ^America! 

it had to be done. Afterward I found that his Lordship had 
accepted not merely for the honor of Carnegie but for a very 
small fee, which he offered to divide with the American 
dignitary. I was flummoxed. 

An English village church with its churchyard and its 
lych gate, its ancient square tower and no less ancient yews, 
set in the rolling green of its glebe lands, with cattle grazing 
at sundown and a tiny river slowly flowing in the dale, is one 
of the most serenely comforting scenes on earth. Here life 
has gone on unchanged for centuries, and every stone belies 
the transitory nature of man. I long wanted an excuse to 
transmit a word-picture of this serene peacefulness, with the 
simple religious service as the epilogue. America likes 
famous names and associations, so I thought of Stoke Poges, 
where Gray's 'Elegy' was inspired. But for some strange 
reason the vicar would not permit a broadcast to America 
(though a local broadcast had already been made from the 
church). The loss was made up by another church, at 
Purleigh in Essex, where the fact of Lawrence Washington's 
having been the rector, and the restoration of a set of bells 
donated by him, was enough to arouse some timely interest. 

A grander broadcast and one of the most beautiful I 
have ever heard was the dedication service of the re- 
stored bell-tower of Boston Parish Church, the famous 
' Stump ' the only church tower which at the same time 
serves as a beacon to the sailor at sea. 

I was touched when a warden of the church came to my 
office to offer us this very costly transmission at the expense 
of the congregation, in gratitude for the help which the 
citizens of Boston, Massachusetts, had given to the ancient 
church in Boston, Lincolnshire, in restoring the damage 
caused by the * death-watch beetle* in the woodwork of the 
tower. The singing in the great church, and the service of 
dedication, working up to the point where the long silent 
bells once more rang out, as the great beacon flashed its rays 
out to sea, must have left an unforgettable impression in the 
minds of anyone who heard the broadcast and realized the 
implications of the event. 

In Search of England 2.79 

Aside from the brilliant occasions when the Church of 
England played a spectacular part in transatlantic broad- 
casting the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Kent, 
the funeral of King George V, and the coronation of his son 
I feel that the singing of English church music of the 
great centuries by the boys of Windsor's Chapel Royal and 
the annual singing of Christmas carols by the choir of King's 
College, Cambridge, stand out as memorable things. Per- 
sonally I shall never forget standing in the richly carved 
box of Henry VIII in St. George's Chapel, looking up at the 
miraculous fan-vaulting and the incredible beauty of the 
Gothic traceries, and down at the riot of color made by the 
banners of the Garter knights, while the choir sang an 
evening service especially for America. Nor shall I forget 
the na'ive answer of the choirmaster when I complimented 
him on the angelic voices of the boys : * I told them to sing 
so as to melt the hearts of the gangsters in Chicago!' He 
meant it literally, too. 


The quaint pageantry of a royal proclamation, the pomp 
and panoply of the coronation these things show England 
from its * unreal' side; they are the same make-believe Eng- 
land which has its daily resurrection in the changing of the 
guard at Buckingham Palace while the nursemaids and their 
charges look on. The coronation of King George VI the 
first coronation ever to be broadcast required three 
months of preparation and the services of a small army of 
engineers and executants. The equipment, costing $50,000, 
comprised 73 microphones, 7 tons of batteries, and 472 
miles of wire. The program, lasting five hours, was broad- 
cast throughout the British Empire and rebroadcast in 
most foreign countries (with the notable exception of Italy, 
which was nursing a grudge against 'sanctionist' England), 
ten of which sent their own commentators to report the 

Hello ^America! 

proceedings in their own tongue. The two major American 
networks stationed announcers at positions opposite Bucking- 
ham Palace as well as Westminster Abbey, on the assump- 
tion that they would be better equipped to serve an American 
audience than their English colleagues of the B.B.C., and 
they made up in liveliness what they lacked in knowledge. 

The B.B.C.'s arrangements functioned perfectly, and 
within the limits imposed by pious loyalty their men gave a 
remarkably clear picture of an event unprecedented in 
magnitude in the annals of broadcasting, which certainly 
succeeded in demonstrating the might of empire to a world 
which seemed in need of reassurance. 

Having satisfied the American listeners' supposed desire 
for expert advance information and exalted names by pro- 
viding a solid week of daily talks from all ranks of British 
nobility and learning, and having laid out an elaborate 
scheme of direct reporting of the great event in collaboration 
with the B.B.C., I had the pleasure of watching the 'works' 
from a fine vantage point opposite the palace. The most 
impressive moment to me was when the King and Queen, 
in their golden coach, swung through the wide-open gates of 
the palace to the cheers of the immense multitude. Strange 
to relate, the massed bands in front of the palace played 
them out to the tune of 'The Stars and Stripes Forever/ but 
most people were too excited to notice it probably in- 
cluding the bandmaster. Altogether it was a patriotic orgy 
such as I have never seen outside a Fascist country, where 
such things are provided by command. 

Excepting the usual number of fainting women and 
men exhausted from standing in the streets since dawn, 
nothing untoward happened, much to the disgust of some 
American reporters in search of a story. Complete con- 
tempt was expressed for the B.B.C.'s arrangements by one 
radio man because no provision had been made for the 
immediate broadcasting of an accident, should it occur, or 
a madman's attempt at assassination or worse. It all 
depends on the point of view. 

Besides giving the world a powerful impression of Britain's 
might, this broadcast demonstrated the world-wide appeal 

Fred Bate, NBC commentator, outside Buckingham Palace 

describing the Coronation Procession of Their Majesties King 

George VI and Queen Elizabeth 

The Foreign Control Room at Middlesex Guild Hall during 
the broadcast of the Coronation 

In Search of England 2.8 1 

of a pageantry and the power of a symbolism which can 
have little real meaning in the modern world. I think there 
was more of the real England in the broadcast of a Christmas 
dinner such as we managed to transmit one Christmas Day, 
for it conveyed the simple but unalterable customs which, 
despite all change, retain a valid meaning so long as the 
family remains the prime social unit of the race. 


These things are mere indications of what international 
broadcasting can do: we have just scratched the surface, 
and there is a great deal below that surface which a little 
imagination and daring will reveal. Two or three times we 
have taken our microphones out into the street and let the 
ordinary passer-by, the man in the street, speak his mind. 
In the United States this has become a regular feature of 
broadcasting on all sorts of occasions, from an election to 
New Year's Eve. The first time it was done in London, the 
officials of the B.B.C. were palpably nervous, for might not 
the man in the street say things that decent ears should not 
hear? He might even use swear words. Well, he did. 

The police were less dubious than the B.B.C., although we 
had picked as our 'stand' a spot just off Piccadilly Circus, 
in Regent Street, and as our time n P.M., when the theatre 
crowd would be beginning to liven things up. Inspector 
Prothero, then in command at Vine Street police station, a 
man of the world and a great detective in his day, brought 
his sense of humor to bear on the situation. I had explained 
our problem: we needed a permit to 'obstruct' the sidewalk; 
we needed a policeman or two to prevent disorder. He looked 
amused and very wise. To help him decide, my partner in 
crime, H. V. Kaltenborn, thought he'd encourage him by 
saying that there wouldn't be any obstruction really no 
crowds or anything like that. The seasoned police officer, 
having presided over the hottest beat in London for many 

2.82. Hello ^America! 

years, drew up his eyebrows and drawled: 'Mr. Kaltenborn, 
your modesty is disarming V 

Having thus put us into our places he said it would be all 
right and he would take precautions. When we told him 
that we wanted to ask all sorts and conditions of people about 
the economic situation (anent the Economic Conference) 
he volunteered, 'Well, you might ask some of "those" girls 
along Regent Street you know?' 

When we turned up with our microphone, crew and gear, 
outside the Piccadilly Hotel we found not one or two police- 
men, but twenty, with a sergeant at their head and before 
we got through we needed them. It was the first man-in-the- 
street broadcast ever made in England, and at first the 
passers-by were shy. But once the ice was broken the fishing 
was grand. A crowd collected, and pretty soon people were 
struggling to get near that microphone or whatever it was; 
our stalwart bobbies did a noble and completely silent job, 
and their courtesy was a lesson to any gentleman. Various 
opinions on that frightful fiasco, the World Economic Con- 
ference, went across, from an intoxicated swell who insisted 
on introducing himself as Prime Minister Bennett of Canada, 
to a Cockney communist who compared it to ' an old sock 
full of 'oles and the sweat runnin' out/ 

As we were getting near the end of our time, a very pretty 
young lady was led up to the 'mike/ I asked her to tell the 

American audience what she thought about the econom 

'Oh, is that all you wanted, dearie?' said the lady of Regent 
Street. The crowd was slightly embarrassed, but they had 
a good laugh. Inspector Prothero was right. He knew we 
needed twenty policemen, and he knew we'd get one of 
'those' ladies in our broadcast. The B.B.C. officials were 
duly shocked, and they haven't risked a street broadcast to 
this day ! But we have in London, and right in front of 
Broadcasting House. 

When in search of England, don't forget the man in the 



T TIENNA is often referred to, by post-war writers, as the 
V saddest place in the world. A city famed for its gaiety, 
the well-being of its citizens, the cosy comfort of its homes, 
the beauty of its women, and the prodigal brilliance of its 
society a city lying in the midst of one of the sweetest 
landscapes, once feeding upon the wealth of a vast polyglot 
empire and the trade of half of Europe was now deprived 
by the cruel fortunes of war of all those happy circumstances 
which gave it its prosperity. 'Wine, Woman, and Song* 
had been its slogan of happiness, but after the war the most 
ubiquitous woman was Dame Care. 

Yet there are qualities in people which do not die. The 
war had taken from the Viennese everything they had 
most of their land, their emperor, their wealth, and even 
their coffee, once the best in Europe, now replaced by 
Ersatz. When the Austrian delegation came to St. Germain 
after the war they were summoned only to sign the death 
warrant of their own once happy land. When they arrived 
at their Paris hotel, so the story goes, on a gray and dismal 
morning, and sat waiting for breakfast, no one was able to 
say a word. Not until some time after the waiter had left 
did the Prime Minister of the new Republic open his mouth 
for some deeply felt words. 'At last/ he said, 'once again a 
good cup of coffee.' 

The coffee is good again in Vienna, its original European 
home (where it was introduced by the Turks), and the 
waiters who serve it are no different from the pre-war breed. 

2.84 Hello ^America! 

As for sentimentality Vienna is more like itself than ever, 
for it can muse ad infinitum on the good old times. 

At this no one is more expert than they. There is in 
Vienna a society which in effect does nothing else. The 
Federal Chancellor belongs to it, and many a solid citizen 
with a title before his name titles which denote not so 
much a rank as an activity, and usually an activity long 
obsolete. Every now and again they foregather in a club- 
house which was once the home of an eminent patrician fam- 
ily, and which is still furnished in the style which Viennese 
call Biedermayer and the unfeeling outer world dubs ' incroy- 
able? They dress up in the clothes of the Metternich period, 
dance the old dances, sing the old songs, and get tipsy on 
Grinzing wine. Early in the year in carnival time they 
usher in the season's dances with a Patching ball, in the style 
of the long ago. 

It was my privilege to attend one of these parties and to 
broadcast it to America, and next day the papers hoped that 
the Viennese in America who had heard it had wept tears of 
longing or of vicarious joy. 

It was certainly Vienna at its most. The Chancellor 
couldn't come, but his wife, that ill-fated young Frau von 
Schuschnigg, who was destined to meet her death in a myste- 
rious motor-car accident within a year, came in an Empire 
gingham dress, carrying a large bouquet, and got her hand 
kissed by innumerable 'court councillors,' barons and majors 
in colored tail-coats and stocks. Betty Fischer, the original 
'Merry Widow,' now a prosperous Dutch lord mayor's 
wife, came to sing the songs that made her famous; a comic 
Viennese character, Ernst Arnold, well known to everybody, 
sang the ' Fiakerlied,' the comic Viennese coachman's song 
which has made five generations of inebriates weep; and the 
illustrious Shrammel Quartet led by fat Pepi Wichart, with 
red face and his thick moustache curled into spirals at the 
ends, furnished the nineteenth-century equivalent of jazz. 
(A Schrammel quartet consists of two violins, accordion, and 
guitar.) As the party warmed up they sang, swayed to the 
music, and praised Old Vienna in many toasts. When the 
old clock on the mantelpiece played its ancient tune, the 

The Tourist's Taradise 

crowd hushed into silence and some wiped furtive tears 
from their eyes. When I left, there wasn't a dry eye or 
glove in the house, and for all I know they are still 
there . . . 

Another time we went out to Grinzing that sentimental 
suburb where Beethoven worked and Schubert imbibed 
while writing songs and broadcast the crowd at their 
Heurigen, the new wine drunk outdoors in spring and sum- 
mer, and indoors the year round. The result was much the 
same, only the songs were different. One of them, 'Fein, 
fein schmeckt der WeinJ a particular favorite with the crowd, 
went something like this: 

'Wine tastes good when you're twenty, 

And so does love, 
Wine tastes good when you're forty, 

And kissing, by Jove. 
When you get older, and gradually colder, 

Just wine alone 

Tastes good.' 

There was a scion of the Hapsburg family in our crowd, 
and when it came time to go home he refused to go by car. 
A Fiaker, the old-time hired carriage-and-pair, was the only 
thing fit to ride home from Grinzing in. When the carriage 
was found, our princeling discovered a finely engraved crown 
on each of the shining lamps, and recognized the carriage as 
having belonged to an old aunt, a Hapsburg long dead. The 
old cabby, with his bowler hat cocked on the side of his head, 
when questioned, confessed that he had been the old lady's 
coachman, and when he recognized her once royal relative 
he all but broke down. Leopold, the Hapsburg offspring, 
mounted the driver's seat with him and they talked about 
the good old times all the way to Vienna. For the rest of 
the night Leopold drowned his sorrow in a pseudo-modern 
Viennese bar, to the strains of strident jazz. 

After the war, the cynical Viennese used to sing the old 
national anthem to these words: 

'Gott erhalte, Gott beschiitze 
Unsern Renner, unsern Seitz, 

2.86 Hello ^America! 

Gott erhalt', man kann nicht wissen, 
Unsern Kaiser in der Schweiz.' x 

Renner and Seitz the first Chancellor of the Austrian 
Republic and the first President of the National Assembly 
became political exiles; Kaiser Karl is long dead. But the 
spirit is still the same. Vienna is still gay. 


Austria is a happy hunting ground for the picture postcard 
fan, but most of its landscapes are suffused with sound. 

Take Salzburg as an example. Salzburg cherishes its 
Mozart and its architecture, which is music, too. During 
July and August it simply bursts with music and picturesque- 
ness, while its fashionable tourists, in leather breeches and 
Dirndl dresses, almost burst with good food. 

When I first knew Salzburg, just after the war, it was a 
different place. It was then the special preserve of Max 
Reinhardt and Richard Strauss and a mangy-looking crowd 
of composers, mostly Viennese, whose activities aroused the 
honest suspicions of the natives. One day two of these 
budding geniuses were actually discovered in the hall of 
the Mozarteum, playing on one piano at the same time, and 
as the piano was public domain, some worthy peasant trustees 
proposed their expulsion from the premises, for misuse of 

There were two festivals in those days, one consisting of 
Mozart and Reinhardt's production of Everyman in front of 
the cathedral, the other of the most modern music of all the 
nations. The former was patronized by the tourists (mostly 
Viennese), and the latter almost exclusively by the modern 
composers themselves and their immediate families (also 

1 ' God preserve them, God protect them, 
Our Renner, our Seitz, 
God preserve one can't be certain 
Our Kaiser, now abroad.' 

The Tourist's Taradise 2.87 

mostly Viennese). It was an artistic maxim that one festival 
did not know what the other was doing; but the natives 
were equally hostile to both. * We want our peace/ said they 

with the exception of the innkeepers and restaurateurs. 
Everybody, including Stefan Zweig and a few genuine 
Salzburgers, would meet in the afternoon at the Cafe Bazar 
(nicknamed Cafe Megalomania) to shout at distracted 
waiters and hear them shout back ' Komme gleichl ' (Coming 
directly!) or 'Bin scho da! y (Am already there!). 

There was no festival playhouse but the tiny municipal 
theatre, though a hopeful band of 'founders' led by Strauss 
and Reinhardt marched to a suburban meadow to watch the 
Archbishop lay the foundation stone of a huge and fantastic 
opera house which is still waiting to be built; and on the way 
home Strauss turned to me to ask whether some rich Ameri- 
can woman couldn't be found to sacrifice just one string of 
pearls to make that great temple of art a reality. 

But it needed no modern temple to listen to Mozart's 
serenades in the open air, and Mozart's masses in the cathe- 
dral. Those who did, and drank cheap country-wine with 
the friars in St. Peter's cellar afterwards, were mostly musi- 
cians, poets, and impecunious dreamers of all sorts; the 
tourists were modest burghers, and the leather breeches 
were worn only by natives and two or three show-offs from 
Berlin . . . 

Now all that has changed: there is just one Salzburg 
festival, and it has become a flourishing industry. Toscanini 
reigns supreme, Reinhardt lives in a reconstructed baroque 
palace with a private chapel and a lake for swans; but 
Strauss and the young composers are gone. There is a 
gambling casino, the hotels are full to overflowing, the prices 
are high, the predominant language is English, and the 
leather breeches and Tyrolean hats have become de rigueur 

except for the natives, who dress in ordinary clothes, so 
you can tell them from the socialites. Mozart's birth house 
is still intact, and his Papageno tune is still played by the 
town-hall chimes; but they are smothered by the 'functional* 
American bars with indirect lighting, chromium-plated 
railings, and 'swing.' 

z88 Hello ^America! 

Now the microphone needn't hear any of that. It can pick 
up the operas and the serenades and the tinkle of Mozart's 
piano; it can go on a pilgrimage to the old real Salzburg hid- 
den under the gaudy surface. The architecture, at any rate, 
is still there that intriguing northern interpretation of 
Italian motifs and the ruined castle surging up out of the 
middle of the town, and the bells of all the churches, and the 
sheer, snowclad mountains rising out of the plain. My first 
set of Salzburg broadcasts started July 25, 1931, and in- 
cluded the Mozart requiem from the cathedral; the last one, 
with Toscanini conducting, comprised Verdi's Fa/staff and 
a promenade through the old Salzburg a multiple 'pick- 
up' of all its traditional charms. After that, commercialism 
stepped in and took what was left. 


A favorite pre-war story about the Poles was the one 
concerning the elephant. A group of people of different 
nationalities agreed to write about the elephant and compare 
the result after two years. The Englishman wrote a handy 
volume entitled 'Elephants I Have Shot'; the Frenchman 
wrote a monograph on 'The Love Life of Elephants'; and the 
German a two- volume 'Introduction to a Study of the 
Psychology of Elephants.' But the Pole simply submitted a 
pamphlet on 'The Elephant and the Polish Question/ 

There is no longer a Polish question in the old sense, but 
the mentality which produced that strange pamphlet lives on. 
There is nothing quite so sentimentally patriotic as a Pole, 
and his particular national touchiness is a thing apart. 

Although Poland is supposed to be a republic, the shrine of 
national glory is Cracow, the city of Polish kings. Here the 
Palace of Wawel, used as a military outpost by the Austrians 
for nearly a century and a half, has been restored by the 
modern decorator's art to its medieval glory, and in its crypt 
lie the remains of Poland's kings, including John Sobieski, 

The Tourist's "Paradise 2.89 

the reputed savior of Vienna from the Turks. But the most 
prominent position is now given to Marshal Pilsudski, who 
saved Warsaw from the Bolsheviks with the help of 

It so happened that on the Sunday afternoon which we had 
chosen for a 'picture postcard' broadcast from Cracow, 
Pilsudski, dead only a few days, was lying in state in the 
crypt, embalmed in the manner reserved for modern dictators 
and Caruso, in a casket of silver and glass. Fifteen thousand 
people had passed around the Marshal's coffin that day, and 
a double line about a mile long was slowly snaking up the hill 
when we arrived to do our commentary. A microphone had 
been placed next to the Marshal, and I couldn't help feeling 
rather sacrilegious to be 'commentating' on the scene with 
the same kind of instrument that is associated by most 
people with crooners. Pilsudski's features, in death, were 
handsome and noble, and showed none of the choleric 
violence with which he was credited in life. The young 
Polish woman who was helping me a graduate of Bryn 
Mawr and Oxford broke into tears and could think of 
nothing but Pilsudski for days. 

But the most dramatic part of that broadcast aside 
from the way in which we ran it was the watchman in the 
belfry of St. Mary's Church who, like his predecessors for six 
hundred years, every day and every hour of the day, plays a 
certain tune, the 'Heynal,' which stops abruptly before the 
end. It stops because one day, during the Tartar siege of the 
city in the thirteenth century, an arrow shot by a besieger 
pierced the trumpeter's throat at that particular point. 
Cracovians set their watches by the unfinished tune, which is 
supposed never to be a second off. It was the only punctual 
item in that broadcast of ours. 

Patriotism takes time. 

Hello ^America! 


Nothing more incongruous could be imagined than the 
intrusion of radio into the silence of the dead city of Pompeii, 
which we picked for a broadcast early one spring. The good 
Neapolitans thought we were simpletons, for what could one 
tell people from the ruins of Pompeii that you couldn't tell 
them from the Naples Museum or for that matter from the 
Metropolitan Museum of New York? Nevertheless their 
radio engineers humored us (just as they humored Max Jor- 
dan when a couple of months later he wanted to broadcast 
the rumble of Vesuvius), even though it involved expensive 
improvements in the fifteen-mile telephone line from Naples 
to Pompeii. 

The nearest terminus, moreover, was at Pompeii station, 
about half a mile from the far end of the ruined city, which we 
wanted to describe. It was necessary to string two insulated 
lines of copper wire loosely over the jagged, ruined walls along 
the whole of one side of Pompeii. One of them was a fiery 
red, and sightseers craned their necks to see what they meant. 
Microphones were installed in five or six places in and around 
the recently and most perfectly excavated 'House of Me- 
nander/ and the broadcast was scheduled for late Sunday 
afternoon. My side-kick in Italy, Raymond Hall, and I 
managed to make a sort of relay pilgrimage from room to 
room, across walls and ruined swimming pools, into the 
'House of the Painter/ the 'House of the Two Lovers/ and 
finally onto a balcony which brought us bang opposite the 
still unexcavated part of Pompeii, where twenty-three feet of 
earth, cut straight down like a layer cake, showed the strata 
of pumice, ashes, and soil deposited by Vesuvius and Father 
Time, crowned by a luscious crop of billowing wheat, under 
which lie the remaining secrets of Pompeii's tragedy. 

Before we got there we came upon the skeletons of the rich 
owner's servants, caught and asphyxiated while guarding the 
treasures of their masters, who sought safety in flight. And 
the watchdog, whose skeleton is still chained, lies embedded 

The Tourist's Taradise 2.91 

in ashes three feet above the ground, showing how far he was 
able to climb with the mounting floor of ashes an eternal 
postscript to stark tragedy. 

Looking to the northwest from that balcony, we gazed 
upon Vesuvius, lazily smoking as always, its white cloud set 
afire by the setting sun. There was no sound in that broad- 
cast but that of our voices, as we described our progress, step 
by step, save a resounding ring of a great bronze bowl in the 
atrium of Menander's House and the inconsequential tinkle 
of some Neapolitan tune at the end; yet I cannot help think- 
ing that the tragic beauty of the place was made more 
poignant to our distant audience than ever before. 


But Italy is full of beauty and curiosity a paradise for 
broadcasters with an inquiring mind. Take the utterly 
medieval town of Siena, whence we broadcast a commentary 
on the Palio that most ancient and most fantastic of all 
horse races in the world while the heavy, caparisoned 
steeds hurtled around the cobbled market place. Armed 
with sticks their riders, each defending the honor of his city 
ward, think nothing of hitting out at their competitors' 
mounts in order to win the race, and each stable requires an 
armed guard to prevent what squeamish Anglo-Saxons call 
* tampering/ Here is medieval gallantry in one of its more 
robust manifestations! And again, take Venice that in- 
credible defiance of nature; one of the most extravagantly 
creative boasts in the history of man. 

We wanted to present Venice to the American listener 
and to the prospective honeymooner with all its romantic 
fascination, but with a realism that tourist catalogues and 
guide books do not attain. And we must have succeeded, for 
here is a fan-letter received some weeks later from Venice, 
California some seven thousand miles away. 

'It is 8.45 A.M. Sunday, May 19, 1935, in Venice, California, 

Hello ^America! 

U.S.A., and I am tuning in on Venice, Italy, for the first 
broadcast from that classic city. Now I hear the voice of the 
narrator . . . describing the panorama spread out before him 
St. Mark's, the four bronze horses, with their story, I hear 
the flutter of the pigeons, inseparable from St. Mark's, the 
bells, the great cathedral organ, and the sacred singing. 
Soon I hear the splash of water in the Grand Canal, the 
conversation of bride and groom (whether stage bride and 
groom doesn't matter) . . . the traffic signals of the canal, 
and, to make it seem more natural, a near-accident occurs, 
accompanied by the quick, impatient staccato voices of the 
gondoliers, as they scold each other in their musical tongue. 
Now back to St. Mark's, with more description of the en- 
vironment; the bells strike six o'clock in the evening, the sun 
is setting, and it is time to say good-bye.' 

Perhaps our correspondent had no taste for music, for she 
might have mentioned the gondolier's song and the sound of 
guitars, and she was certainly too optimistic about radio's 
power to bring more sympathy and understanding to the 
tribes of humanity. What the poetic lady did not know was 
that the preliminaries were a most desperately sordid and 
harrowing experience, reminiscent of the days of Casanova, 
king of mountebanks and a Venetian among Venetians. 

After encountering the various bestie of the Police Depart- 
ment, the Prefect's office, the Carabinieri, and the sup- 
posedly pious guardians of St. Mark's, not to mention the 
brotherhood of gondoliers, the cafe proprietors and the 
gentlemen in charge of the city's morals, we were ready to 
give up the ghost. A day before the broadcast the police 
ordered us to take down our lines and instructed the guards 
to remove microphones wherever they should be found! 
And all because, apparently, we hadn't tipped either the 
right people in the right sequence, or the right amounts. 
The guardians of St. Mark's had the greatest qualms about 
letting us profane the great church with microphones, and 
maybe put americanata (low-brow Americanisms) into our 
script. In the end they rang only the tiniest bell (instead of 
the famous great one as agreed), because the ducats had not 
reached the right hands. Luckily they couldn't stop the 

Radio transmitted to the world the tragic beauty of the dead 
city of Pompeii 

The Tourist's "Paradise 2.93 

bronze Moors, who, in the habit of striking the hour for 
centuries, could not be deterred. 

The show was saved, it should be recorded, by Count 
Ciano, Mussolini's son-in-law (later Foreign Minister), who 
had been appealed to in Rome and sent a * phonogram* to 
the Podesta inquiring who dared to obstruct us. But corrup- 
tion is a tradition that goes back to the days of Othello, and 
Venice for all that is the City of Dreams . . . 

'Mi/a dollari per minuto* (One Thousand Dollars a 
Minute) was the heading a leading Italian newspaper put 
over its report of our broadcast. 


Turning from the sublime to the ridiculous, I come upon 
the following among my collection of scripts: 

'Hello, America! This is Monte Carlo calling. We are 
going to take you on a flying trip through the world's most 
famous gambling resort. Sorry we can't win any money for 
you, but we'll have a look-in at the tables and see how others 
do it/ And we did. We were going to soften the blow with a 
little scene from the opera house, where the curtain was about 
to ring down on Glazounoff's ballet Raymonda^ but the stage 
manager, after agreeing to retime his show, forgot that his 
watch was fast. So, without musical introduction we 
switched to the sumptuous Sporting Club, where French 
men about town, English aristocrats, Russian emigres, and 
faded dowagers of all nationalities were trying to improve 
their economic status by staking all they could afford on the 
spin of the roulette. Among those present, too, were Prince 
Andrew of Greece, the Maharajah of Nepal, Lord de Clifford, 
Steve Donoghue, the jockey, H. G. Wells, Somerset 
Maugham, and Mr. and Mrs. Berry Wall of New York, 
dressed in the style of the gay nineties. 

The croupiers were wonderful, and most obliging. We 
dangled a microphone over the table, to pick up the spinning 

2.54 Hello ^America! 

ball and the click of the chips, and another one by the side of 
each croupier. They raised their voices as they shouted their 
'Faites vos jeux!' and ' Rien ne va plus,' and offered to use 
real gold Napoleons instead of chips to make a more impres- 
sive noise. They poured a flood of gold out of a bag before 
my greedy eyes, but coming through the microphone the 
precious coins sounded like tin, so we decided to use chips in 
our 'demonstration game/ I then made the only running 
sports commentary of my career, except for the Olympic 
Games in Berlin, when Bill Henry suddenly handed me the 
microphone and asked me to tell the audience what / thought 
of a certain race. Both commentaries were of the same degree 
of expertness; they left the listener no wiser than he was be- 

Our real trouble in Monte Carlo was not caused by the 
chips but by a bevy of 'girls' Les Girls just arrived 
from New York, who were doing a dancing show and were to 
greet the folks back home. They refused to take anyone 
seriously except a weaselly little French ballet-master, who 
yelled at them and got kissed in return. This band of ' sugars,' 
used to working only with their legs, had to be taught even to 
giggle convincingly, and one of them just managed to say, 
'This sure is a Ritzy place.' They nearly wrecked the show. 

But it was all good, clean fun, and nobody in this Temple 
of Mammon needed to be bribed. 


Holland, you would think, is full of things to broadcast. 
If it is not the most beautiful country in Europe, it is the 
most picturesque, and it has been almost entirely made by 
the hand of man. (The parts that were there before the 
Dutch came along, nobody seems to care about.) Holland, 
moreover, is a direct ancestor of America: New York was 
really New Amsterdam, and our highest claim to aristocracy 
is a Dutch name. The Dutch, enterprising as ever, were 

The Tourist's Taradise 195 

actually trying to produce broadcasts for us, while the rest of 
Europe just waited for us to come and make our own. But 
Holland is a silent land. William the Silent is the national 
hero, and Holland lives up to his name. It is a land of flat, 
hand-made squares of soil, called polders, of canals called 
grachts, of clean narrow brick houses on clean, brick-paved 
streets, of windmills and boats and vegetables and flowers, of 
large cheeses and wooden shoes all silent things, except 
the clogs, and they are too monotonous for words. Even the 
cheeses are rolled along to be loaded on canal-boats, so they 
don't make any noise. 

We investigated all these things, and finally the energetic 
Phillips's man (drumming up business for the short-wave 
transmitter) took me to the Island of Marken, where the 
people go about in the old Dutch costumes and get them- 
selves photographed for money by gullible tourists. I never 
saw a sadder place; the inbred population of that little island 
has nothing to do but read books, so they are the most 
educated as well as the most picturesque peasants in the 
world. They used to fish, but now that the Zuider Zee is 
gradually being reclaimed and turned into more polders (for 
future generations of Dutchmen, who can either eat or export 
the surplus vegetables that will be grown), the water is 
turning sweet and the fish are getting soured on the locality. 

We went to see the mayor of the little town a wizened 
old man in shirtsleeves but he had nothing to suggest. 
Weren't there any carillons in the church tower? No, the 
community is Calvinistic and very strict; there isn't any 
music in the church. We went away, sadder and wiser men, 
and got rather seasick on the shallow Zuider Zee. And yet 
we broadcast from Holland several times. Once it was 
Hendrik van Loon, speaking from a diamond factory in 
Amsterdam, and a very interesting talk it was; another time 
it was from the tulip fields, ablaze in all the colors of the rain- 
bow, and much more brilliant. 

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated as 
President for the second time, I listened to the proceedings 
in a little Dutch town, together with some Dutchmen who 

2_c;6 Hello ^America! 

took the fact that for the second time a member of the 
Roosevelt family had become President of the United 
States with remarkable calm, considering that his ancestors 
came from that very town Oud-Vossemer, a mere hamlet 
on the island of Tholen, near the Hook of Holland. When 
the inauguration was over we had a little surprise party, to 
which we hoped the President would be able to listen, as 
millions of 'my friends and fellow citizens* did. 

It took place in the little town hall of Oud-Vossemer, 
opposite the Dutch Reformed church and within sight of the 
house whence Claes Roosevelt, so they say, emigrated to the 
New World. Over the mantelpiece of the Council Chamber 
(where that afternoon I had seen clog-wearing Dutchmen 
collect their Depression dole) was the Roosevelt coat-of- 
arms, together with those of the other patrician families of 
the town; and the mayor, a mousy little man, dressed in his 
Sunday best, with his chain of office around his neck, was 
there to read a speech. So was the American Minister, who 
told the story of the Roosevelts of Oud-Vossemer. 

But I never saw a stiller town. An immense Dutch flag 
hung over the town hall facade; it was Oud-Vossemer's great 
day. But not a sound, not a cheer! 

Yes, Holland is a silent place. 


More and more European countries are organizing short- 
wave broadcasts for distant lands primarily for their 
colonies, if they have any, secondarily for America, because 
America is full of ' colonies ' of all nations. These American 
colonies have their value: at best they provide spheres of 
interest thin wedges of economic penetration; and they 
are always customers for 'invisible exports' remittances 
to relatives and purchases as tourists help the national 
exchequer. In any case national minorities have become a 
political preoccupation since the war, and some countries 

The Tourist's Taradise 197 

regard their hyphenated Americans as fit objects of govern- 
mental solicitude. Whenever European statesmen speak to 
America they have these prodigal sons in mind. And that 
leads to amusing episodes. 

The Grand Duchy of Luxemburg is as proud of its inde- 
pendence as any power in Europe, possibly even more so 
and it has reason to be. This musical-comedy monarchy has 
less than a thousand square miles of area, less than 300,000 
inhabitants, an army of 250, and one radio station, which is 
the most powerful in western Europe, operating on one of the 
longest wave lengths in the world but that is another 
story, belonging in Chapter XXIV. And it is ruled over by a 
charming young Grand Duchess, married to a descendant of 
Louis XIV. Its capital is a town of fairy-tale romance, with a 
moated castle high up over a river, and in its principal street 
you buy delicious pastries from a grand ducal purveyor, 
sporting the grand ducal arms over his door. A living pic- 
ture postcard, in fact, and an ideal place for a picture post- 
card in sound. 

When I asked the head of its government to say a few 
words three minutes' worth he replied with a full- 
length speech, which had to be cut down by very diplomatic 
maneuvering. When I discovered that the speech was to be 
made in two languages the Luxemburg dialect and 
English I almost passed out. ' But/ said the Minister of 
State, 'there are over 100,000 Luxemburgers in America* 
a national minority, in fact. The one hundred and twenty 
million non-Luxemburgers were of minor importance: in- 
deed, the dialect speech was to come first. The situation was 
desperate, so only desperate measures would do. We in- 
duced His Excellency to defer the dialect speech until the 
national anthem was played, and didn't tell him that the 
time would then be up and that American listeners (Luxem- 
burgers and others) would be listening to something else. 
But as there was a distinguished audience in the studio, his 
oratory wasn't quite wasted. I hated to do it, for I never met 
pleasanter folks. 

The American charge d'affaires was even more romantic 
than the place. A Southerner, from Georgia, he was more 

Hello ^America! 

royalist than the King. His courtly manners would have 
done honor to any Frenchman of the ancien regime^ and he 
spoke of the Grand Duchess as Her Serene Highness, with a 
voice full of reverence. Walking me along the high river bank 
he told me the story of the fair Melusinde, who lived in a 
cavern by the river in the long-ago; she married a handsome 
prince, but the princess turned into a dreadful ogre, who 
plunged into the river where she lives until this day, and will 
live so until the perfect youth comes along, who has the 
courage to kiss the ogre; then she will be saved. In some way 
he seemed to believe that the prophesy would yet come 
true and a prince reign once more upon the Luxemburg 

When I left that night, on a modern railway train, seen off 
by the courtly American diplomat, I had to pinch myself to 
make sure it hadn't all been a dream. 

The thing that stuck in my mind after leaving this midget 
state was that the people were extraordinarily prosperous, 
that there was no unemployment, and that the income tax 
was about the lowest in Europe. But then despite its 
smallness Luxemburg stands seventh among the world's 
producers of steel. Monaco, even smaller in territory, has 
hardly any taxes at all; but of course its government lives on 
the profits of the gaming halls. Let's have a look, I thought, 
at the rest of the Lilliputian states. 

High up in the Alps, on the banks of the youthful Rhine, is 
the little principality of Liechtenstein, wedged between 
Austria and Switzerland, yet independent of both. Its 
capital is Vaduz, the Vallis dulcis sweet valley of the 
Romans, and its area of sixty square miles contains no 
minerals nor is its capital a gaming spa. There are plenty of 
rocky mountains, and the rest is peaceful farms. Well, I sent 
my friend Raymond Hall to make a broadcast from Liechten- 
stein, and he reported that the country supports some twelve 
thousand people in perfect comfort, and that the taxes are 
very, very low. Moreover, he found that Liechtenstein is 
perhaps the most democratic country on earth, for almost 
anything can be decided by a referendum of the whole 

The Tourist's Taradise 

people a large town meeting at best. And the only soldier 
in the country, made of wax, is kept in the museum. 

As for the country's octogenarian, six-foot-plus monarch, 
a Most Serene Highness who thoroughly knows his Vienna 
he spends only a little of his time in the ancient battlemented 
donjon castle of Vaduz. Since Napoleon confirmed his 
country's ancient independence, his family is privileged to 
intermarry with the royal houses of Europe, but I seem to re- 
member that one of his sons preferred the alliance of a good 
bourgeois Jewish family in London's West End. 

So what do the large and powerful nations gain by being so 
grand? They can be patriotic. But so, we found, can the 
little ones. The Liechtensteiners who took part in our 
broadcast, from the head of the government down to the 
assembled peasants, sang the following anthem with much 
more gusto than the British put into 'God Save the King* 
and to the same tune: 

'Long live our Liechtenstein, 
A Jewel on the Rhine, 
Happy and true! 

Long live our country's Prince, 
Long live our Fatherland, 
In bond of brother-love, 
United, free!' 

Smaller than either Luxemburg or Liechtenstein is the 
Republic of San Marino, which occupies the flat tops of two- 
thousand-foot Mount Titan and is completely surrounded 
by Mussolini. Since even Napoleon Bonaparte, defied by 
its doughty citizens and two guns, marched around it and 
left it intact, a Fascist dictator can do no less. Noblesse 
oblige! San Marino, ruled by two Captains Regent (one 
noble, one plain) joined the Allies in the World War and has 
not made peace with either Austria or Turkey to this day. 

When King George V celebrated his Jubilee he received 
the felicitations of all the governments of the world, and 
from the hands of little Giovanni Sovrani, restaurateur and 
Vice-Consul of the Republic of San Marino, he received the 

300 Hello ^America! 

order of that country's patron saint. Its insignia, in gold and 
enamel, are as gorgeous as any I have ever seen. 

When we broadcast the inaugural ceremony of the Cap- 
tains Regent that same autumn, the San Marinese went ' all 
out/ They posted official notices giving the details of the 
program; they tolled the palace bell when the announcer 
appeared on the palace balcony; had the national anthem 
played on time; fired the guns of the fortress as the guards 
saluted the flag, and tolled the great Rocca bell at the end, 
solely for the benefit of America. The crowd shouted ' Viva 
la Reggenza!' 'Viva la Republica!' and 'Viva I' America!' 
after the newly elected Noble Regent addressed them thus: 

4 The friendship that unites the smallest and oldest re- 
public in the world to the largest and one of the youngest 
does not date only from today . . .' 

Well, if most of the Americans who listened hadn't even 
heard of San Marino till N that day, they were taught some- 
thing; for, holding a faded letter written by the hand of 
Abraham Lincoln, he read: 

'Great and good friends, 

'Although your Dominion is small, your State is never- 
theless the most honored in all history. It has by its ex- 
perience demonstrated the truth, so full of encouragement to 
the friends of Humanity, that government founded on 
republican principles is capable of being so administered as 
to be secure and enduring . . .' and so on for three or four 

The Marinese are as proud of that letter as Britain is of 
its Magna Carta, or America of its Declaration of Independ- 
ence; and as proud of being Marinese as Englishmen and 
Americans are proud of being what they are. Nor are their 
ceremonies less impressive. The next issue of // Popolo San 
Marinese carried a full account of the proceedings, including 
the broadcast to America. Just like an inauguration at 
Washington, D.C. 

I am sorry to say that there is no broadcasting station in 
Andorra not even a telephone line that could be used for a 
broadcast to the outside world. But the only thing that 

The Tourist's Taradise 301 

makes me doubt that Andorra is just as happy as the rest of 
Europe's tiny lands is a paragraph in my friend Negley Far- 
son's book, The Way of a Transgressor. When Negley climbed 
up into the remote capital of the Pyrenean republic to 
interview its President (annual salary: $3.75), he asked him 
what his principal duties were. The answer was: * Relations 
with foreign powers/ 



OF ALL the broadcasting organizations in Europe, 
Great Britain's is the most conscientious, Germany's 
the most efficient, Italy's the most ambitious. What shall we 
say of France's ? The most casual ? The most haphazard? It 
certainly is both of these, but at the same time the most 
amiable. Englishmen regard their radio as a great social 
force religious, social, artistic, educational. The French, 
certainly, have no such ambitions about this latest contrap- 
tion of the amusement world. The Frenchman is the world's 
individualist, and he refuses to take too seriously anything 
that is likely to disturb his own particular routine for the 
enjoyment of life. The 'T.S.F.' receiver 1 is by no means 
an indispensable furniture in the modern French home, 
nor has radio reduced in the slightest the clientele of the 
corner cafe. 

For years, therefore, radio was a stepchild, born of 
industry, and negligently fathered by the state. Succes- 
sive governments advanced projects for a great central 
studio building, but none of them lasted long enough to get the 
money voted in Parliament, and by the time the new govern- 
ment came in, the experts decided that the plan was out of 
date. So official French broadcasting is still done from the 
backyard of the old post-office built under Napoleon III. 

During the first year of international broadcasting no 
French programs were relayed to America. It was not until 
the opening of the Colonial Exposition of 1931 that France 

1 T.S.F. is abbreviation for T616phon6e sans Fil, literally 'wireless telephone.' 

*Uive la France! 303 

erected a short-wave station at Pontoise for the benefit of 
the natives in Madagascar, Algiers, etc. If the opening of 
the Exposition, by Marshal Lyautey, was transmitted to 
New York (the first French broadcast heard in America), it 
was due only to the persistence of the American companies; 
and in the end it had to be taken via England and the trans- 
atlantic telephone because there was no suitable directional 
antenna at Pontoise. 


After this Colonial Exposition broadcast I thought it was 
about time that America should hear some characteristic 
French programs and the voices of French public men. The 
N.B.C. had broken the ice by rebroadcasting a concert of 
the Garde Republicaine band. What, aside from music 
which didn't yet come across the Atlantic without consider- 
able mutilation could we import from France? What 
French things were Americans chiefly interested in ? Fashions, 
for one thing; wine for another (America was still dry). Let's 
begin with fashions! 

The most famous fashion creator of the moment was Jean 
Patou; let's have a talk on the autumn fashions a forecast, 
* inside stuff' from Jean Patou, for the ladies of America. 
I was assured that Patou spoke English; his manager cer- 
tainly did, and with him 1 worked out the details. The 
crucial day arrived, and the great man, handsome and 
temperamental as a film star, arrived at the old post-office 
building in the Rue de Grenelle, where a very primitive studio 
was placed at our disposal. He arrived rather late and I had 
not seen his script. It needed attention, and as for Monsieur 
Patou's English a month would have been better than the 
fifteen minutes or so in which I tried to brush it up. But, 
worst of all, there was no forecast, no real information that 
was worth the expense of transmission, only some pretty 
words for *ze American leddees' and some near-poetry about 
Patou's forthcoming perfume! 

304 Hello ^America! 

'What/ I asked prosaically, 'are the essential novelties for 
the fall ? Give me some general principles and we'll work up 
an interview/ 

'Ah! novelties/ he said. ' II y a deux choses, two cardinal 
innovations la mort du noir et la mort du derriere ' (' the 
death of black and the death of the backside'). 

I thought I hadn't heard right. He repeated it. 'But you 
can't speak of "the death of the backside/" I said. 'Not to 
an American audience/ 

'But why not?' and he went on to explain how dresses 
would be ' straight up and down/ concealing all suggestions of 
curves at the stern. This was the Big News and I didn't 
appreciate it. We had to find an innocuous English circumlo- 
cution, but he remained skeptical. I began to be grateful for 
his Gallic pronunciation of English. While we were arguing 
someone rushed in from across the hall and said that we 
ought to begin (there was no starting signal). We did; we 
spoke into the most antediluvian and unconvincing micro- 
phone I had seen outside of Ireland. 

Almost none of Patou's words could have been understood 
by the average high-school graduate, so I repeated his 
answers in paraphrased form in language fitting for 
flappers' ears. I never heard whether anybody listened. 
I hope nobody did. That was our first 'special' from France, 
and the first fashion broadcast to be heard in America. 1 


But the Frenchest of French broadcasts came from the 
Quartier Montmartre, on the Fourteenth of July. The idea 
was to project across the Atlantic something of the spirit of 
the great national festival by which the French celebrate the 
fall of the Bastille. We chose the Place Clichy, where we 
found the unused upstairs room of a corner cafe, commanding 

1 There have been many transatlantic fashion broadcasts since then; in fact, 
they have become seasonal events. 

IJive la France! 305 

a sweeping view of the Boulevard and the Place, and domi- 
nating the upper reaches of a comparatively quiet backwater 
a favorite spot for the street-dancing that goes on all over 
Paris on the night of the Fete Nationale. This large, many- 
windowed room would make an ideal studio and control- 
room, permitting us to switch on and off at will the gaieties 
and noises of the street and square. 

They were plenty the usual attractions of a popular 
street fair, including side-shows, street vendors, two huge 
merry-go-rounds boasting steam calliopes of prodigious 
sonority, and at night (our broadcast would take place after 
dark) there were to be colored lights, fireworks, and the lurid 
brilliance of the Moulin Rouge, with its illuminated wings 
gyrating perilously over the heads of the passers-by. Street 
traffic didn't worry us, for on this day of days the accommo- 
dating Paris police divert motor cars or guide them adroitly 
around the orbit of couples waltzing in affectionate em- 

The clou of our show would be a dance band in the side 
street, which was subsidized by the proprietor of our cafe. 
It was to be conducted by a dubious character known as the 
'Clown of Montmartre/ who at desired moments would 
conjure up a community chorus from among the dancing 
couples under the sway of his baton. For our special benefit 
Mile. Floriot, a billowing blonde vedette of the Opera- 
Comique, would sing the verses and lead the choruses of 
'Les fonts de Paris' and other favorite ditties of old-time 

From all these riches of entertainment we would choose 
at will, tying them in with a little dramatization of cafe 
conviviality and a commentary by two American visitors 
my Paris mate and myself. I was to run the show. By means 
of a 'mixing panel' we would fade in and out the various 
sounds of the street and the cafe, and the antics of the clown- 
conductor, who would take his cues from an electric torch 
signal through the nearly sound-proof windows of the studio. 
The arrangements were perfect: only the technical set-up and 
the general continuity had to be rehearsed in the early after- 
noon, when there would already be some goings-on. The 

306 Hello ^America! 

engineering was in the hands of the P.T.T., the French 
department in charge of French telephones and radio. 

In the morning the engineers were to be there, installing 
their microphones, amplifiers, and 'leads/ We arrived at the 
cafe; Pere Vannoux, the patron, smiling cynical tolerance, 
was already behind his bar; Madame was supervising the 
cleaning up; chairs were piled on tables; odd characters of 
the quartier were standing about having an early bock. 
Some of them later turned out to be our engineers. There 
seemed to be some insurmountable technical difficulties; the 
local characters took a hand in the discussion, and pretty 
soon there was a chorus of gesticulation and shrugging of 
shoulders that boded ill for our enterprise. 

Nobody paid any attention to us until we proposed to 
stand a drink all round. That not only focussed the discus- 
sion, but gained us some auxiliary volunteers local 
mechanics who had come to loaf but remained to work; one 
of them, in fact, saved the situation by some master-stroke 
which hadn't occurred to the official crew. After all what 
would you ? this was a matter of advertising la patrie. So 
in the end, instead of the single microphone attached to an 
obsolescent telephone installation, we had cables slung 
across the street, special leads through cellars of private 
houses, and a veritable net of lines converging on the im- 
provised studio over the corner. 

We returned in the afternoon to rehearse and gather 
atmosphere. The street was alive with children and lookers- 
on. We waited for our chief actors; gradually they turned 
up, but no two of them were there together. People flitted 
in and out, but nothing happened. More shrugging of shoul- 
ders: Malgre tout, it was the Fourteenth of July! 

Above all no engineers; no possibility of trying out 
'noises off/ Nobody thought they were important; every- 
body was concerned about his own piece. Our prima donna, 
in a frilly creation, turned up complete with yellow-gloved, 
morning-coated husband, spreading an exotic perfume 
through the cafe; the 'mayor* of Montmartre made a visit of 
inspection; the hitherto mythical clown looked in between 
his turns at the Moulin de la Galette; Pere Vannoux and 

la France! 307 

Madame, worried about the disturbance, were throwing 
ugly looks. We rewrote our script on a marble-topped table, 
moist with the remnants of liquid cheer. Darkness was 
coming on; we gave up the rehearsal and trusted to luck. 


Presently the band arrived and started up. More than 
that: another band started up fifty yards further down the 
street, and the two produced a terrifying cacophony. What 
to do? The patron thought he might 'fix* things by in- 
demnifying his competitor of the neighboring cafe for the 
loss in dance-minded customers. We agreed on a contribu- 
tion, and with the diplomatic help of the maire were assured 
of a half-hour monopoly. About twenty minutes before the 
deadline, the engineers, holding smouldering cigarette-ends 
between their lips, sauntered on to the scene. The micro- 
phones had still to be connected up; also the earphones which 
were to enable me to listen to the entire output and so to 
stage-manage the show. 

We mounted the dark stairs to the studio. Surprise 
number one: no lights in the room! While we sent out an 
S.O.S. for electric bulbs, the men began setting up their gear 
in the dark. A standard microphone was put in place for 
me near a strategic window. 

'Now, what about the fireworks?' 'Mais, monsieur, it's 
too early for those!' A twelve-year-old lad, named Hip- 
poly te, turned up from nowhere and promised to set off some 
toy bombs on the glass and tin roof of the sidewalk cafe. How 
nice for the customers, I thought, but never mind! Every- 
body worked with a will, galvanized into action by the ex- 
citement. In an emergency Latins are at their best. (Re- 
member Gallieni's taxicabs at the Battle of the Marne!) 

At last we were ready to try just a few minutes of the 
program. I signalled to the maestro. The band started up; 
I listened through the engineers' phones. Great Apollo and 

308 Hello ^America! 

the Nine Muses! The Mighty Barnum and Igor Stravinsky 
together couldn't have equalled this: the two merry-go- 
rounds, though 'way across the square, were drowning our 
show. Nothing could be heard but their steam calliopes, 
coming through the outside mikes. 

Once again we appealed to the patron ; this time nothing 
could be done. Not even by the maire. Stop the merry-go- 
rounds on the Place Clichy? Think of the loss, Monsieur! 
j4i pay era? I was ready to throw up my hands when little 
Hippolyte, the fireworks expert, sidled up to me and whis- 
pered, 'You want the merry-go-rounds to stop?' 'Yes, for 
fifteen minutes.' ' I'll do it,' and off he was. In a few minutes 
he was back, having with his childish enthusiasm convinced 
the boss of the carousels that for the good of the Quartier and 
the glory of the French revolution he just had to lay off for a 
quarter of an hour. Moreover, a playmate had been posted 
near the merry-go-rounds who would watch for the first fire- 
cracker, by way of signal, and see that the armistice was 
carried out. 

We were now as set as we could hope to be, everything 
considered. The street was crowded with dancing pairs. I 
took my position at the microphone, surrounded by the cafe 
characters, ready to flash signals at the maestro below. I 
now called for my earphones. Ye gods and little fishes! 
They were dangling off a short wire, far beyond my reach in 
a spot where I couldn't see the street. I exploded: 'Norn de 
Dieu!' this was too much. Still chewing his cigarette, the 
engineer came up smiling. 'How many minutes have we 
got?' I pointed to my watch exactly two and a half. It 
was marvellous to observe him and his helper hauling 
wire, twirling, unscrewing, splicing, and twisting a presti- 
digitator had been lost in this apparently blase servant of 
the state. The seconds ticked off on my stop watch: one 
minute to go silence 'Hello, America!' As I said the 
words, a silent pair of hands slipped the ear-phones over my 
head. The show was saved. 

Everybody came up to scratch the prima donna, the 
dancers and singers, and even the surly patron, who had to 
contribute a few words in his rich Auvergnat accent, just to 

la France! 309 

show that there were no Parisians in Paris which was the 
point of the back-chat we had arranged. Hippolyte's fire- 
crackers were a little too enthusiastic, perhaps, but even the 
merry-go-round added a touch of color, for out of sheer 
gratitude I waited just long enough before stopping them to 
give listeners a touch of bedlam at its best. 

The end of the show was a clinking of glasses containing 
real champagne by way of thanks to the helpers. There 
were six or eight of us in the room. After I signed off I saw 
that they had increased to thirty or more, and the patron 
was bringing up bottle after bottle of his best Veuve Cliquot. 
The prima donna had received a bouquet and went off dream- 
ing of an American tour; Hippolyte refused all recompense 
except the remaining firecrackers, worth about ten cents. 
Madame, below, beamed at the crowded cafe, and as in the 
wee hours we gathered ourselves up to go, we had but one 
thought: 'Charming people, these French!' 


Franco-American amity is firmly based on history; its 
outward symbols to the Frenchman are Lafayette, Pershing, 
and Miss Liberty. Miss Liberty meaning the gigantic 
bronze statue in New York Harbor, a gift of the Republic of 
France to the sister Republic across the sea recently 
celebrated her fiftieth birthday in circumstances which her 
creator could certainly not have foreseen. Two Presidents, 
one speaking in the Elysee Palace in Paris, the other on 
Bedloes Island in New York, in the shadow of the statue 
itself, took part in the same ceremony and in the hearing of 
the peoples of both countries. 

The occasion, impressive as it may have been, was not 
without a touch of comedy to those who could see the 
machinery. The American end was American enough, to be 
sure; but the French end was very, very French. 

The ceremony on Bedloes Island was to include speeches 

io Hello ^America! 

by the Mayor of New York, the Secretary of the Interior, and 
the President of the United States, the usual salutes and 
music by the United States Marine Band; in Paris the 
President of the Republic would ' answer ' President Roose- 
velt, after being introduced by the American Ambassador. 
President Roosevelt would greet France and the ' Marseillaise ' 
would be played, while a guard of honor saluted the French 
tricolor; then, from France, would come 'The Star-Spangled 
Banner/ played by the Musique de la Garde the crack 
French army band. The ceremony was to start at two P.M. 
New York time, corresponding to seven P.M. in Paris. The 
United States Department of the Interior had approved the 
program, and Ambassador Bullitt had been advised. All I 
had to do was to go to Paris, superintend, and announce. 

I arrived on the afternoon plane, about four, and started 
to check up by telephone. First the American Embassy. 
The officials had heard that a broadcast was taking place and 
that the Ambassador was expected to speak, but he was in 
bed nursing a cold, and while he might dose himself into 
condition he certainly could not appear at the President's 
Palace without an official invitation from the French 
Government. No invitation had arrived! 

It was evidently just one of 'those things' that happen in 
official circles. The job was to get someone at the Quai 
d'Orsay, the French Foreign Office, to 'invite' the Am- 
bassador. Nobody was against it, I found; in fact it had 
been intimated to the Embassy that if his Excellency would 
like to be present it would be all right. The difficulty was, 
first, to convince officials that that wasn't enough for an 
Ambassador and second, to find a proper person who in 
the Minister's absence could do more than 'intimate,' i.e., 
invite. French is the language of diplomacy; I mentally 
thanked my school teachers for every word of it. After 
many more calls from my bedroom telephone I was able to 
try the Embassy again, and sure enough, word had come 
from the Quai d'Orsay and national honor was saved. The 
Ambassador was at that moment taking spirituous refresh- 
ment and literally rising to the occasion. 

By this time it had grown pretty late, and the next check- 

la France! 311 

up with the broadcasting people was near closing time. 
Yes, everything was arranged, but what was this about 
the music? The President's private secretary had said some- 
thing about the Garde. Yes, of course; I reminded him that 
the music had been requested weeks ago. 'Well, yes, but 
we thought that a recording would do. It's too late now to 
mobilize the band of the Garde Republicaine; they're all 
over town.' Time was getting short. All I could do was to 
repeat for the nth time that American broadcasting chains 
do not permit records. I had to leave it to the official to get 
the band a band, anything that could play the American 
national anthem. After all, I had the President of the 
Republic on my side. I rang up his Chef de Cabinet: for all I 
knew the President himself might have walked out on me by 

Thank God, he hadn't; but my respects were overdue. 
I rushed into my dress-suit, which had not even been un- 
packed, hopped into a taxi, and arrived, perspiring, at the 
Executive Mansion to make my peace with that impressively 
weighty dignitary, the Chef de Cabinet, chief secretary and 
major-domo of the Elysee. I found him in a rather nervous 
state, as the result of sundry wires that were trailing loosely 
all over his carpet, and a 'horrid' radio set (through which 
President Roosevelt's words were soon to be heard) usurping 
space in the sacred precincts where French heads of state 
since Napoleon Bonaparte had lived. As a studio, I found, 
we had been assigned a tiny waiting-room at the end of a long, 
long corridor. It would necessitate about a three minutes' 
walk for the President to take his cue. But what's time to 
the World's Exalted? 


Suddenly the loud-speaker burst forth; the American 
program was on. Two o'clock in America: the announcer 
revealed that here we were on Bedloes Island, awaiting the 

312. Hello ^America! 

President's arrival. The Roosevelt party was late, so after 
some ' gagging* about the brilliant scene he gave it up and we 
went 'back to the studio for a little entertainment by 
Harold Levey's band/ American jazz blared out; the Chef de 
Cabinet bristled. Peering over the top rim of his gold 
pince-nez, he muttered words which happily no one under- 

The Ambassador arrived, and presently I was summoned 
into the presidential sanctum. Dapper Albert Lebrun, 
President of the Republic, affectionately known to his 
enemies as Pou-Pou, sat at an enormous desk. He was in 
excellent humor; the Ambassador, Mr. 'Bill' Bullitt, had 
evidently been telling an amusing story, possibly about 

having risen superior to his cold Although I had visited 

him in his Moscow embassy the year before, he didn't 
recognize me, which in the circumstances was not surprising. 

Lebrun asked me if everything was arranged. 'Yes, 
President Roosevelt is due to begin; I'll let you know, so 
Monsieur le President can listen to the speech.' 

' Et la musique est en place?' ('The band is ready?') asked 
Lebrun. ' I don't know, Monsieur le President ',' which was 
the honest truth. 

l Voila,r cried he, with a sweeping gesture, and turning 
to the Ambassador. ' Voyez-vous^ c y est toujours comme fa; 
toujours les techniciensj meaning that the technicians never 
know. But he didn't seem to mind. We all laughed, and I 
blushed with pride, for the President evidently took me for 
a compatriot, with authority over the Republican Guards. 

In the anteroom, the loud-speaker was still going strong; 
the announcer was again taking us back to the studio, for 
'some entertainment by Harold Levey's band.' And more 
hot jazz, not improved by transmission, boomed forth. This 
happened three or four times Franklin D. Roosevelt was 
very late indeed. At last we heard the booming baritone of 
Mayor La Guardia, then the other speakers, and at last the 
American President. Lebrun was duly notified, but evinced 
no special interest and continued to laugh at the Ambassa- 
dor's yarns. We were listening intently when the weighty 
Major-Domo emerged. He seemed quite distraught by now. 

la France! 313 

Dragging his tired feet over the carpet he tripped and tore 
the wires zip! and the Rooseveltian eloquence was cut 
off short. There were vociferations and recriminations for 
' les technicienSy and for some anxious minutes we thought 
we'd miss our cue. But finally the wires were tied, Mr. 
Roosevelt wound up with ' Liberty' and 'Democracy/ and 
'our friends the citizens of France'; and to the sound of 
the 'Marseillaise/ drifting gustily from the loud-speaker, 
President Lebrun and the Ambassador picked their way to 
the improvised studio. 

Outside its door was a pair of ear-phones for me. I intro- 
duced the Ambassador, who spoke his piece without a hitch. 
The engineer gave the signal to the f musique> presumably 
en place somewhere in the inner courts. ' The Star-Spangled 
Banner' began; in my ear-phones it sounded magnificent. 
That was the Garde Republicaine, sure enough; no other 
band could play like that. 'The tune ended a second verse 
began. My heavens, we're already twenty minutes late! 
Then, incredibly, the tune started a third time. I stormed 
at the engineer: where was the band couldn't he stop 
it? He calmly pointed to an adjoining room. I rushed in and 
there, smiling sheepishly, was an official operating a portable 
gramophone. Words failed me, except to mutter that I 
would signal him when to stop. We arrived at the last line; 
I raised my hand for a vigorous down-beat and without 
waiting for it in the middle of the last phrase he stopped 
his wretched machine. He didn't know the tune or any 
tune, most likely. 

I now announced the President, who, blissfully ignorant 
of what was happening, began his oration worthy of a 
Frenchman and an Academician. Nothing more mattered: 
we signed off, rather limp. I had visions of the United States 
Marines at present arms, the President of the United States, 
cabinet members, diplomats, state and city officials, Daugh- 
ters of the American Revolution, and just citizens standing 
at attention, while my fat friend in the next room was run- 
ning off a record on a portable gramophone ! We had broken 
a rule, but we were innocent a small consolation. 

The beaming President came out and shook hands. 

314 Hello ^America! 

After he had gone the French engineer turned to me and 

said: 'You're too excited. Why get excited? Who cares?' 

I suppose he was right. I stood him and his assistants 

a drink. Raising our glasses we murmured: ' Vive la France! 1 



IN THE high summer nights of Europe's northernmost 
lands the sun never sets. A reddish-golden orb, sus- 
pended above the horizon, it traces a path of mysterious 
light upon the waters of the fjords. In these luminous nights 
the fisherfolk and peasants of the Arctic Circle light their 
bonfires and dance the old dances to the village fiddlers' 
tunes. At the summer solstice these nocturnal festivities 
reach their climax, and Midsummer Day has become the 
national holiday throughout the North. 

Civilized nations that they are, Norwegians and Swedes 
have the comfort of their remotest citizens at heart; postman 
and telephone have done much to soften their isolation. A 
few years ago the Norwegian broadcasting administration 
opened a broadcasting station at Vadso, almost as far north 
as the North Cape, so that even the remotest Laplanders 
might feel in touch with the world. All America heard the 
Vadso station when it was inaugurated in 1934, for it was 
rebroadcast by the two principal American chains; and a year 
later the Norwegians organized, at my request, a broadcast 
of the festivities at midnight of Midsummer's Day. 

From a lonely refuge on Ronvikfjeld Mountain a speaker 
described the splendor of nature's spectacle, awe-inspiring 
and full of mystic meaning to the simple man. Then, from 
the island town of Bodo came the sound of the dancers and 
fiddlers and of fireworks and beacons crackling in the wind, 
and finally the toll of midnight from the little Bodo church. 
Norwegians in the American Middle West heard the songs 

316 Hello ^America! 

that their parents had learned from their mothers' lips, and 
many of them wrote to the old folks back home to tell them 
how they had been moved to tears. 

Indeed, the voice of the Old Country is something that 
many millions in America would strain their ears to hear. 
Successive generations of emigrants from European countries 
kept the old songs and the old customs alive. Now that 
emigration is all but ended, a dimming memory is all that 
remains. Radio can and should help to preserve these 
elements of national life. In this endeavor it is restricted only 
by the public's insistence, or supposed insistence, on an 
unlimited amount of the currently fashionable variety of jazz 
(using the word in its broadest sense) and the constant de- 
mand for timeliness and news. 

But programs can have news value by virtue of their 
nationality alone, and many an interesting program has been 
transmitted across the ocean from a country that happened 
to be 'in the news/ It was the tragedy of King Alexander's 
assassination that brought us not only the first broadcast 
from Yugoslavia but also a program of Serbian and Croatian 
folksongs that was full of beauty and interest. And to the 
eminence of Nicolai Titulescu, Rumania's great Foreign 
Minister now a virtual exile we owed a fascinating 
program of Rumanian national music from Bucharest, to 
which he added his first and only transatlantic speech. 

The World War created no less than eight new independent 
states in Europe, and each of them, I found, had its Inde- 
pendence Day. That gave Americans a chance to hear not 
only the Fourth-of-July oratory of its leading statesman but 
more pleasing by far its national tunes. Poles, Czechs, 
Slovaks, Letts, and Lithuanians in America thus heard the 
Old Country sing, and so did for similar reasons the 
Hungarians, the Portuguese, the Swiss, and the Finns. 

The *Uoice of the Old Country 317 


For a thousand years and more the peoples inhabiting the 
lake shores and wide river beds of Finland or roaming its 
immense wooded plains have recited and sung the runos of a 
racial epic built by the imagination of their ancestors but 
never written down until a century ago. Today this * Kale- 
vala' is the greatest cultural possession of the Finns and the 
inspiration of its artists, and musicians. But now, as in cen- 
turies past, the primitive poets and rural composers of this 
extraordinary race go on creating their own verses and tunes, 
and come together to recite and sing them to the 'folk.' 
Two years ago a great assembly of these folksingers, as well 
as the flower of the country's men of arts and letters, met at 
Sortavala, on the shores of Europe's largest lake, Laaokka, to 
celebrate the completion of the manuscript of the Kalevala a 
hundred years ago, and a part of this great event was broad- 
cast to America. Listening at their loud-speakers, thousands 
of Finno-Americans, as well as Americans in general, could 
hear four thousand Finnish singers intone the opening verses 
of the Kalevala, to a runo handed down by uncounted genera- 

' Come and let us sing together 

Since at length we meet together 

From two widely sundered regions. 

Let us clasp our hands together 

Let us interlock our fingers 

While our dear ones hearken to us. 

* While the young are standing round us 
Let them learn the words of magic 
And recall our songs and legends.' 

And they heard, too, a tune played on the kantele, the an- 
cient, many-stringed bardic harp, composed and played by 
the descendant of an old family of bards, and many other 
things beautiful in themselves and of deep significance to 

3 1 8 Hello ^America! 


It was a fascinating task to learn about national festivals 
and religious customs peculiar to certain countries that could 
be transmitted to America in terms of sound. The proces- 
sions of Saint Stephen's Week in Budapest, gorgeous as they 
are, were difficult to focus into a microphone; but nothing 
could surpass the splendor of the Holy Week processions in 

For sheer barbaric fervor these open-air rites excel even 
those of the camp-meetings of the American negro, for they 
have in them elements of racial tradition going back through 
the centuries of Islamic conversion to an idolatry even more 
remote. It would be impossible to describe either the wild 
beauty of the picture or the mass emotion that grips the 
people of Seville in their Semana santa, and that alone was 
good enough reason for projecting its sounds by radio. There 
are some seventy pasos in Seville miraculously carved 
figures and groups each belonging to a church and cared for 
by a Holy 'Brotherhood whose competitive ardor is both 
religious and militantly artisan. For two years after the 
revolution of 1932 the Holy Week processions were for- 
bidden; when they were once again allowed, they were also 
broadcast, for the first time in their history. 

We placed our microphones on the balcony of the Town 
Hall on Good Friday evening, when the most famous images, 
the * Virgin of the Macarena,' the * Virgin of Hope/ and the 
'Jesus of Great Power' make their slow, tortuous way 
through a billowing sea of humanity. What passed before the 
announcer's eyes was utterly fantastic: the weirdly hooded 
'brothers/ completely covered by black and white mantles, 
with only slits for their eyes; the thousands of lighted candles; 
the crowd, seized with religious frenzy but hushed into 
silence when inspired singers suddenly intoned their rhap- 
sodic, quasi-Oriental saetas century-old wails that have 
defied all attempts at musical notation. No weirder, more 
incongruous running commentary was ever filtered through 
a microphone. 

The *Uoice of the Old Country 319 

The commentator, a cultured young Spaniard, educated in 
England and married to an American girl, was, three years 
later, broadcasting insurgent bulletins from somewhere in 
Spain, having only narrowly escaped death in the early 
months of the Civil War. 

It was in 1932 when the same Spanish friend took me from 
Barcelona to the mountain monastery of Montserrat, on 
Catalonia's sacred mountain, whose earliest traditions are 
lost in the mists of time. Up and up through vineyards and 
olive groves we went, then through forests of oak and pine 
until only shrubbery remains in the folds of those bizarre, 
tooth-like rocks, high up over the plain, like a mighty group 
of sentinels facing the Pyrenees to the north. According to a 
local legend the Devil in his fury tore these mountains out of 
the ground and turned them upside down; so what are now 
the mountain's peaks were originally its roots. Here the 
Benedictines have maintained a refuge for many centuries, 
and one of their pilgrims was the Ignatius of Loyola who 
afterward founded the Jesuit Order. Within its cloistered 
walls the monks still sing the age-old chants; but they had 
never been heard except by those who made their way to 

We entered the sombrous church and by the mysterious 
light of hundreds of tiny candles saw the legendary Black 
Virgin, that weirdly beautiful image carved in ebony by un- 
known hands, which was discovered many centuries ago in 
a cave not far from the summit of the mountain and has been 
revered by the faithful ever since. She wore a golden crown 
and was clad in one of the richly ornate robes which sovereigns 
and popes and the Great of the Earth have bestowed on her 
through the ages. A young couple were praying silently be- 
fore her, for no Catalan marriage, according to local belief, 
can be happy without the Morenetas blessing. 

We ascended the winding stairs to the quarters of the Father 
Abbot, benign Don Antonio, who interrupted his meditations 
to receive us, in cassock and scarf, incongruously nursing a 
cold. In awed whispers we arranged for a traditional service 
to be transmitted to America the following Christmas tide; for 

32.0 Hello ^America! 

the singing of the famous choir of monks and boys is especially 
beautiful then. The gentle abbot had never heard a radio, 
but he was a man of the world though living above it. He not 
only gave the permission; he even altered the hour of the 
service to suit American time. The idea must have fascinated 
him, as it did me. 

Telephone lines had only recently been laid to the monas- 
tery (along with the rack-and-pinion railway which now 
alas! brought pilgrims to his hostelry without the effort 
worthy of a holy quest), and on this single line we based our 
hopes. With the enthusiastic Catalan radio people helping 
us, that line was made to carry music such as few telephone 
lines had ever carried before thirty-odd miles to Barce- 
lona, thence by telephone cable to Madrid, and by short- 
wave to America. The ' Salve Regina ' sung by the monks and 
the boys of the Escalonia, one of the most ancient singing 
schools in the world, was unique and unforgettable. No 
Christmas broadcasts have ever surpassed, in mysterious 
beauty, this service from Spain. 


Christmas is a religious observance in southern and 
Catholic countries; it is a family festival in the north. From 
France, therefore, America heard the Messe de Noel; from 
Italy the quaint children's nativity at the famous church of 
Ara Coeli in Rome. From Germany, as from England, we 
staged typical Christmas parties, in which the holly and the 
waits, the Christmas tree, and Father Christmas were essen- 
tial ingredients. Christmas carols from various countries are 
now a regular adjunct to American programs at Christmas- 
tide. At one Christmas I joined ten European countries in a 
single broadcast, each contributing a carol and a Christmas 
wish in the native tongue, spoken by a child. 1 

1 Christmas greetings were first exchanged by the N.B.C. with England, Ger- 
many and Holland, in 1929. 

The *Uoice of the Old Country 3x1 

One of the genuine early successes of transatlantic broad- 
casting was the preview of Christmas toys from the world's 
most famous toy-town, Nuremberg, with its traditional toy 
market, its gold- tinsel Christmas angels, and its world-famous 
gingerbread. Most German toys make a noise, and we made 
them all perform before the microphone, against the back- 
ground of the ancient town with its medieval ramparts and 
the tolling of its bells. Then some forty children intoned 
their Christmas songs as only German children can, and were 
one and all rewarded under a giant Christmas tree. We had 
to repeat this performance the following two years, and each 
time the benign democratic mayor of the city added his 
greetings in English with a quaint German accent. 

Then, after a hiatus, we resumed this broadcast, by request. 
This time the jovial mayor had been replaced by a portly 
Nazi in brown shirt and gaudy insignia, and other party 
dignitaries provided atmosphere. The toys, which included 
miniature machine guns, howitzers, tanks, and airplanes 
dropping bombs, were duly 'demonstrated' before the micro- 
phone, to the delight of the bystanders, and so far as I know 
there were no complaints except from a lady in America who 
objected to our calling German children anything so dis- 
respectful as 'kids/ . . . 

But the children, all the same, were sweet kids, just as 
before; and they sang like little angels. Their teacher, who 
had brought sixty of them, instead of forty, explained that 
there were too many tears at the suggestion of any of them 
being left behind so we had to buy an extra supply of 
Lebkuchen next day. 

A new prospect of interesting broadcasts came with the 
opening of the radio-telephone link between London and 
Cairo, with good land-line connection to Palestine. Through 
the united initiative of the N.B.C. and the B.B.C., arrange- 
ments were made to transmit the bells of the Church of the 
Nativity in Bethlehem to England and thence to America, at 
Christmas, 1934. They sounded, of course, very much like 
other bells, since nothing was allowed to be added, to set the 
scene and identify the historic locality. But that did not 

Hello ^America! 

detract from the sensation, and the idea of wrapping up this 
precious tidbit in elaborate Christmas music and peals of bells 
from London and New York was an excellent solution of the 
program problem. 

What really was wanted, of course, was a complete Christ- 
mas program or service from Christianity's traditional birth- 
place. But the prospect opened by science could not be 
realized because, alas! the Christians who are in charge of 
this shrine of shrines do not practise the Golden Rule. The 
church, like that of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, is 
parcelled out among various Christian sects Armenian, 
Latin, and Greek who have been at loggerheads for cen- 
turies. The sacred grotto, with the manger, the silver star 
and the awe-inspiring inscription, * Hie de Virgine Maria 
Jesus Christus Natus EstJ is guarded by armed soldiers day 
and night, and the soldiers are Mohammedans; for it is the 
Christians who have tried, from time to time, to take posses- 
sion by violence, and Christianity's treasure must therefore 
be entrusted to non-Christian guards . . . 

In Jerusalem the matter is further complicated. Here, be- 
sides the Latin, Greek, and Armenian sections of the church 
built on the hallowed ground of Golgotha, part ownership is 
claimed by Protestants, Copts, and various other sects. 

Broadcasts from the sacred interiors, both at Bethlehem 
and Jerusalem have been planned again and again; both the 
British Postmaster-General (in charge of all communications) 
and later the broadcasting authorities eager young men 
sent out from London by the B.B.C. did everything they 
could to help. But when a transmission was proposed from a 
part owned by one sect, the owners of the others would pro- 
test. If cable leads were to pass unavoidably through 
one section in order to connect up to a microphone in the 
next, it was in danger of being cut. So to this day no broad- 
cast from any part of the church has yet been made. 

The bells of Bethlehem have, however, rung for the two 
major American networks every Christmas since 1935. On 
the following Christmas Eve we managed to get a little fur- 
ther. The choristers of the Anglican church were actually 
allowed to sing their carols in the courtyard of the church, 

The *Uoice of the Old Country 313 

under the starry Bethlehem sky. And in Jerusalem we were 
able to transmit sermons and descriptive talks and bells 
from the safe vantage-ground of the English church. If the 
British succeed in partitioning Palestine and the holy 
places will be inside the British part, one may even be able to 
transmit an actual street scene, a trick that has been im- 
possible until now for the simple reason that the local engi- 
neers have been too busy mending lines cut by rioting Arabs 
or Jews. Our unsophisticated executives in New York at one 
time ordered a program from the famous Wailing Wall. A 
broadcaster attempting that had better take poison, and die 
a peaceful death. 

The Arabs, by the way, complained that Palestine is too 
much publicized from the Jewish angle already, and were not 
at all friendly to the various Jewish programs that have been 
short-waved to America. And except for the riots, we should 
have transmitted Arab and Bedouin programs long ago. 

Indeed, the transmission of scenes from the Islamic world 
was a fascinating idea but difficult to carry out. The Egyp- 
tian broadcasting authorities came to the rescue in 1935, and 
with their help we constructed a program consisting of a 
street scene in Cairo, full of color and movement, a reading 
from the Koran by a famous sheik, and a concert of music on 
Arab instruments, all of which were clearly described. The 
Koran reading, a strange and to Western ears vaguely 
melodious performance, had a weird fascination, and students 
of such things might detect, if not a similarity, at least traces 
of a common ancestry between this Moslem ritual and the 
Christian saetas of Seville. 


The voice of the Old Country lives most potently in its 
songs. Folksong revivals in many countries are a recognition 
of this, and both America and England have a strong ear for 
the music of the folk, to judge from their concert programs 

324 Hello ^America! 

and the catalogues of the publishers. But nothing is more 
easily distorted, nothing more often debased to a mere 
pseudo-art, than these artless expressions of a people's soul. 
Strictly speaking, they are neither translatable nor trans- 
portable: you must go to the country of origin if you want to 
hear the genuine thing. 

That is what I thought when, early in 1937, I undertook 
the most interesting broadcasting pilgrimage of my career. 
This was a folksong journey on behalf of the American 
School of the Air, resulting in the first series of transatlantic 
radio programs ever designed specifically for schools. But 
the interest lay not only in the tapping of these inexhaustible 
treasures but also in the human contacts to be made and the 
unexpected difficulties to be overcome. And most interesting 
of all was the discovery that some commonly held notions 
about these countries did not square with the facts: for 
instance, that all Italians are musical and most Englishmen 
are not; that Frenchmen are temperamental and Germans 
just efficient and disciplined; that Northerners are 'cold' 
and Southerners 'warm'; that the Orient begins east of 
Vienna, where European civilization is supposed to stop; 
and so on through the vocabulary of tourist lore. 

Nearly all these notions are wrong. The English children 
proved to be very musical indeed, and thoroughly alive to 
the beauty of their songs. If Italian children are equally so 
we were not allowed to know it, for they are supposed to have 
'forgotten' the old songs, being too busy with more im- 
portant things (such as drilling with miniature rifles, march- 
ing, and singing Ballila songs). . . . The French kiddies 
didn't suffer from temperament so much as from discipline, 
administered by nervous schoolmarms, too anxious to make 
them behave; while the German Madchen who sang for us so 
beautifully had the time of their life teasing the brown- 
shirted Nazi who conducted them. 

The question of emotional temperature proved to be more 
personal than geographical; and the most ardent singers we 
found up north in Scotland where the songs are ' too 
passionate' to be entrusted to the bairns. So we had a man 
and a woman, with a wee choir to save expense. But the 

The *Uoice of the Old Country 32.5 

conductor, a gaunt Scots nationalist, treated me to haggis 
and whiskey, to produce the proper frame of mind. 

In short, the only people who seemed to regard their folk- 
songs naturally, and who understood just what was wanted, 
were the English, the Irish, the Poles, and the Czechs. And 
even the English were a little too artistic about the job. 

The story of that journey through twelve countries can 
only be told with music, which I hope to do some day. But I 
cannot forego paying a tribute to willing helpers of various 
nationalities, especially that intelligent Mrs. Boylan, of 
Dublin, who has trained her little band of school-children to 
sing the traditional Irish songs with something of the old 
fantasy and without ironing out the quirks; also to Karel 
Haba, that able Czech musician who is getting to the very 
heart of the folk, setting its songs in their simple purity; and 
to the passionate Czech and Polish schoolmasters who 
trained their boys and girls to sing them with such infectious 

The Germans seemed more interested in the new Nazi 
marching songs than in the beautiful folksongs of their child- 
hood days, but they finally gave us what we wanted, with one 
contemporary creation added, as a sop to fashion. In Italy, 
alas! we had to be content with a full-sized chorus and or- 
chestra, and professional soloists. (Everything had to be 
artistically elaborated, and even a Venetian gondolier's song 
could not be simply accompanied by a guitar, because the 
guitar is no longer considered a 'national* instrument.) And 
in Sweden they simply could not scrape up even a few chil- 
dren to sing their profoundly beautiful songs. But the per- 
formance, with an adult ensemble of sixteen, was the most 
efficient of all. 

The grandest showing was made by the Hungarians, who 
promptly recruited a hundred boys from one high-school and 
a hundred girls from another and made them sing intricate 
a cappella settings by Bartok and Kodaly, which they did as 
easily as rolling off a log. An astounding performance, 
though much too highbrow for the purpose. 

All in all, I don't think that the voice of the Old Country 
had ever before been so effectively presented to American 

32.6 Hello ^America! 

listeners as in this series of broadcasts, despite the sophisti- 
cated bias of some. But it was a mere beginning, a path to be 
trodden by people who are genuinely interested in education 
by radio. It was a pity to have to omit Wales, with its great 
Bardic heritage, and Norway and Belgium and Yugoslavia 
and war-torn Spain. (Bulgaria and Greece are still outside 
the broadcasting pale.) And above all Russia, richest in 
folksong of all the countries of the world. 1 

I have said very little in this book about the broadcasting 
of what is professionally called 'art music. 1 This, too, has its 
place in transatlantic radio exchanges, but I don't attach as 
much importance to it as do some. I incline to the opinion of 
those who believe that the international rebroadcasting of 
symphonic music, for instance, is very much like carrying 
coals to Newcastle. Art music is supernational the heri- 
tage of the whole world and with few exceptions is exe- 
cuted as ably abroad as in the country of its origin, depend- 
ing upon the genius of its interpreters. This does not apply, 
of course, to the unique cultivation of certain musical species, 
such as the Tudor madrigal in England, Mozart operas in 
Germany and Austria, or the singing of polyphonic music of 
peculiar style by certain European choirs. 

For that reason the great traditional festivals have a 
broadcasting value of their own. The Bayreuth and Salz- 
burg festivals, first broadcast by N.B.C. and Columbia 
respectively; the Welsh national Eisteddfod, the Three 
Choirs Festival of England, and the great German Sangerfest 
are outstanding examples. Nor is it easy to duplicate the 
singing of Bach's music by the choristers of his 'own* church 
at Leipzig, which was rebroadcast at the Bach tercentenary 
and other occasions; nor the singing of Palestrina and other 
sixteenth-century church music by the Vatican choirs in 
Rome, which I was privileged to transmit for the first time 
early in 1932. 

1 Russian folk-music has, however, been transmitted to America on various 
occasions during the last three or four years, and in January, 1936, we managed to 
rebroadcast part of a great folksong festival a kind of musical Olympiad from 
Moscow. The difficulty about Russian transmissions to America is that the short- 
wave channel passes near the magnetic pole, and conditions are favorable only at 
certain times of the day. 

The *Uoice of the Old Country 32.7 

Much remains to be accomplished, however, in the techni- 
cal field of short-wave transmission before such broadcasts 
can be regarded as artistically reliable. And above all Ameri- 
can stations must be prepared to take complete works and 
not just snippets, as now. 



TRANSATLANTIC broadcasting was a great adven- 
ture, especially in the earliest years when every suc- 
cessful transmission seemed like the miracle that it is. Now- 
adays people take too much for granted. Had they, sitting 
lazily at their loud-speakers and listening to us on the other 
side of the earth, known what was involved, they would 
have thought the miracle even more miraculous. To us, 
contending with a strange, untried instrument, in the hands 
of strange and temperamental people, often speaking lan- 
guages one did not understand, it was a triumph when a 
broadcast came off a heartbreak when it didn't. 'What 
an exciting life you have!' people would say when they 
heard about this new job. 'What interesting people you 
must meet!' Yes. But the fascination is often too exciting 
for the nerves; and an interesting man is never less inter- 
esting than just before he faces the mike. If he is new to 
the game, as often as not he is just plain scared. 

That is one reason why some of the most carefully pre- 
pared broadcasts aren't better than they are. In the studio, 
everything is prepared, rehearsed, tried and tried again; out 
in the field nearly everything is impromptu. Sometimes 
you're lucky, sometimes not. And luck appears in strange 
guises, too; sometimes your luck will land you in the soup. 
And sometimes your worst licking will be a blessing in dis- 
guise. Here, then, are a few examples of both these dispen- 
sations of fate. 

Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson, the greatest Hamlet of 

Fisherman's Luck 32.9 

our day, matinee idol of two generations and two continents, 
the possessor of the finest speaking voice and noblest stage 
presence within living memory, had retired from the stage 
when radio came into its own. At seventy-eight, the great 
old actor was living quietly in his Bedford Square home, pot- 
tering about the house, dreaming of his past glories. I had 
an idea that Americans, even if they were not to see him 
again, might like to hear once more the sound of that mag- 
nificent voice, or what was left of it. 

I went to call on him and found that the voice was feeble, 
but still vibrant. He spoke with feeling of America, the 
country that had been the scene of his mightiest triumphs, 
where he had made a fortune, where he was revered as the 
greatest tragic actor since Irving; and where he had found 
his idol too Gertrude Elliott, who became his wife and 
the mother of his talented children. His memory dwelt on 
these things, though otherwise it had a tendency to ramble. 
He was getting very old. 

But he agreed to speak: he would do a short talk on 
Shakespeare on the poet's birthday, and read Hamlet's 
advice to the players. It was an experiment, not without its 
hazards, and to support the program I engaged the famous 
English Singers, who would sing Shakespearean madrigals. 
There was no chance for a rehearsal, and I trusted to the 
fortunes of the moment. Anyhow, as long as I was there it 
was all right: I was always prepared to fill in. 

The Sunday afternoon chosen for the program was very 
wet. As luck would have it, my watch was slow. When I 
realized it, it was twenty minutes to air time. I jumped into 
my small car and fairly flew down Regent Street toward the 
B.B.C. Suddenly something came out of a side street, I 
jammed on the brakes, skidded into an iron sand box, and 
smashed the front of the car. The windshield was shattered 
into a thousand bits, but by a lucky chance I escaped with- 
out a scratch. The street was empty except for a cruising 
taxi. There was nothing to do but hail it, and with the 
cabby's help I pushed the wreck to the side, left it, and taxied 
to the studio. I walked in a couple of minutes before the 
signal to start. There was only time to place the singers and 

330 Hello ^America! 

shake hands with my 'star/ I didn't see that he was quiv- 
ering with mike fright. The old stager, who had thrilled 
millions in thousands of performances, was in terror of that 
tiny object dangling in front of him. 

The introduction over, the old routine came into action; 
he pulled himself up straight; he read his speech, though 
haltingly here and there. Everybody was on edge, expecting 
something awful to happen. But he reached the last word 
in safety, then with a deep sigh he turned to me and asked, 
pointing to his huge Shakespeare folio, 'Is there still time 
for this ? ' not realizing that all America could hear his 

I motioned 'yes'; he braced up again, and then the old 
Hamlet voice came forth, apparently strong as ever, with 
its old bronze glamour, and the lines rolled forth in the grand 
manner of the prewar tragedian. It was fascinating and 
touching to see the old man. Once finished, he seemed 
to shrink in size; then, with utter exhaustion in his voice, 
said 'Thank God, that's over!' and all America heard that, 
too. Then the English singers burst into their fa-la-las and 
we began to cheer up. 

When it was all over and Forbes-Robertson had been 
tucked into his car, I thought of my own flivver, up in Regent 
Street, and expected to be in for a fine for obstructing one 
of London's busiest streets. I taxied up to it; a policeman 
had just passed along and when he saw me he turned his 
back. It was a complete wreck, not worthy of his notice. 

Well, that broadcast probably cost me a year of my life: 
first, the worry about the old man; the nervous strain of 
running an improvised program, after arriving in the nick of 
time; then the wrecked car and the near-catastrophe! But 
anyway, I had put over what I thought a unique show 
something that could never happen again : the greatest actor 
of our time was nearing eighty; he had never broadcast 
before and never would again. Surely I would get some 
swell fan mail after that 

A week or so later it came: three or four letters from elderly 
ladies, complaining about Forbes-Robertson's ' blasphemous ' 


Fisherman's Luck 331 


At the beginning of 1934 Paris was in an ugly mood. The 
Stavisky scandals stank in the nostrils of good citizens; the 
economic crisis was at its peak; Fascism, as preached by 
Colonel de la Rocque and his ' Croix de Feu/ was arrogantly 
raising its head. On February 6, seventeen people were 
killed and thousands injured in the riots on the Place de la 
Concorde. Fascists, communists, socialists, war veterans, 
and just angry Frenchmen had tried to force the bridge 
leading to the Chamber of Deputies, and except for the 
drastic shooting by the police (after provocateurs in the 
crowd had fired the first shots) the Chamber might have been 
fired, with the Deputies inside. This was France's 'little 
revolution/ following upon a period of corruption and a 
series of ineffectual governments which preceded the 'na- 
tional' government of Doumergue. It was the crisis which 
decided, for the time being, whether France would go Fas- 
cist or find a way to law and order and yet preserve its her- 
itage of liberty. 

On Wednesday (the seventh) the morning papers in Lon- 
don were full of the bloodshed across the Channel; that night 
it broke out afresh and I was on my way to Paris, to see if I 
couldn't broadcast an eye-witness account from there. I 
decided to get Percy Philip, correspondent of the New York 
Times, who had been in the thick of the fighting, to tell his 
story that night, and myself give a follow-up next day. The 
great advantage was that Philip had already got permission 
from the Quai d'Orsay for a similar talk he was making for 
Great Britain; he was a highly respected and trusted man. 
Next thing was to get the telephone lines set up via Eng- 
land, for the sake of safety, for the French short wave was 
still risky then. London and New York agreed; the chief of 
Radio-Coloniale (our usual studio) agreed, provided the 
order came through in time. 

Between six and seven the London telephone service 
called me at my Paris hotel; said they had telegraphed the 

332. Hello ^America! 

order to the Paris telephone service but had had no answer. 
They tried to reach French officials by telephone, but every- 
body at the Paris end had gone home; could I help them to 
deliver the order by giving them a 'live' address? I sug- 
gested the chief of Radio-Coloniale, with whom I had dealt. 
An hour later, at the studio, I checked up and heard that 
the message had come through; it was now merely a question 
of getting the necessary papier (document, permit, or what- 
ever) from the telephone official which would be at- 
tended to. 

At ten o'clock Philip and I, script in hand, arrived. The 
director was gone; his office door locked. Two jovial engi- 
neers were on duty. They informed us that there were no 
lines. Why not? They had heard nothing; they had no 
papier. We remonstrated, talked, argued; millions of lis- 
teners were waiting in America, the programs of a hundred 
stations would be upset. Nothing moved them; they tried 
telephoning to somebody but it didn't sound convincing. 
The hour came and passed no lines. The engineers work- 
ing the repeaters were gone for the night, said the engineers. 
Here we were, with the most graphic and exciting story of 
the biggest thing then happening in the world, and New 
York, after waiting in vain, switching on a cinema organ 
instead! And all because two French minor officials refused 
to work without a written order a scrap of paper from 
somebody higher up. The sworn word of two Americans 
representing a world-renowned newspaper and a universally 
known radio chain was not enough. We tore our hair 
and left. 

Next morning I stormed the office of the broadcasting 
service, and told my story to the man in charge of foreign 
liaison. ' So it was you who wanted lines last night ? ' he said. 
'If I had only known that! The studio telephoned me, but 
all they said was that some newspaper man (un journaliste 
quelconque) wanted to talk to America. He didn't give the 
name, so I couldn't authorize a papier. "No papier, no 
broadcast"; you know those are the rules!' 

Next day, after seeing the great demonstration at the 
Place de la Republique, at which Leon Blum was cheered 

Fisherman's Luck 333 

as the leader of the Front Commun (which later became the 
'Popular Front')> watching the French police clean up the 
workingmen's quarters with armored cars and truncheon 
charges, and feeling the heavy boot of an enraged Paris 
agent in my rear, I thought I had enough local color: so I 
flew back to London and told America my story from there. 


When Mussolini, in the summer of 1935, was getting the 
Italian steam roller ready to invade Abyssinia, the name of 
Mr. F. W. Rickett began to figure dubiously in the British 
and American press. The presence in Ethiopia of this oil 
prospector started the dogs of scandal barking at John 
Bull's heels, thanks to the Italian press campaign. Over- 
night this hitherto obscure Mr. Rickett became the symbol 
of British mercenary designs. He had secured a concession 
from Hailie Selassie, the value of which in the circumstances 
seemed very doubtful indeed; but presently it became known 
that he was acting for American concerns, and the name of 
Standard Oil was being bandied about on the front pages. 
There were rumors and denials, accusations and counter- 
accusations; the American Government took a hand and 
extracted a disclaimer from the suspected tycoons. The 
British were worried. 

Meantime Mr. Rickett got home to London, having given 
an interview on the way, and my smart secretary in my 
absence had promptly arranged for a transatlantic talk from 
the famous mystery man himself. I thought there might be 
trouble, but the order for facilities was duly booked by the 
British Post Office, and New York was keen. I bearded the 
lion in his den a windowless office at the end of a long 
corridor in London's financial district. Rickett was a typi- 
cal Englishman of the go-getter type, ruddy-faced, rather 
elegant, and close-mouthed about his affairs. He had made 
piles of money in the Mosul oil fields and the outposts of 
empire and had now achieved the dignity of an M.F.H. 

334 Hello ^America! 

(Master of the Foxhounds), which in England is almost a 
title of nobility. To the mineral wealth of Ethiopia, he 
assured me, Mosul was a mere puddle. 

An obsequious ex-Fleet Street journalist, acting as his 
publicity man, produced the script of the proposed talk. It 
was quite innocent; had eloquent words in it about peace, 
economic co-operation, and so on. The pioneers of Big 
Business were the real champions of civilization shades 
of Cecil Rhodes and all that. 

Next day it got noised about that Rickett was going to 
speak. My telephone began to be busy; not mere secre- 
taries or subalterns, but some pretty weighty personages 
themselves got on the wire to convince me that a talk by 
Rickett would be a nasty bomb. Britain, it is true, had 
nothing to do with it, except to supply some telephone 
facilities on the usual terms, but would Italy understand 
that? Italy was a friendly country; did we want to jeop- 
ardize Anglo-Italian relations? We certainly did not, and 
the talk was cancelled at very short notice. A perfectly good 
scoop gone west, and New York getting excited because the 
newspapers were yapping for an explanation. Where was 
our vaunted free speech ? 

I didn't care a whoop about Mr. Rickett, but it was a 
bitter pill. 

Well, despite Britain's generous gesture the friendly rela- 
tions didn't last very long. The famous Peace Ballot, organ- 
ized by the League of Nations Union, showed that Britain 
was overwhelmingly not only for peace (11,000,000 votes) 
but also for sanctions against the aggressor; the National 
Government pushed sanctions at Geneva; Sir Samuel Hoare 
made ringing speeches pillorying Italy; on October 9 fifty-odd 
nations condemned her, and Baron Pompeo Aloisi left 
Geneva in a huff. 

Two nights before his departure, Edgar Ansell Mowrer, 
Chicago Daily News correspondent, made a talk from the 
Geneva studios for Columbia listeners, stating the case for 
sanctions and describing the League's historic action, and 
for a minute or two he interviewed Tacle Hawariat, the 
dusky Abyssinian envoy whose day of triumph this was. 

Fisherman's Luck 335 

His English was limited, but he did manage to say what he 
did in perfectly intelligible words. We were delighted; here 
was the Man of the Hour, and radio made him real. 

Next night it was Italy's turn. The delegation was pack- 
ing up to go; the die was cast. Mowrer was speaking again; 
it was obvious that he must let Aloisi have his say. We 
worked hard, and by midday the Baron had decided to talk. 
A microphone interview was prepared. 

Both Hawariat and Aloisi were controversial matter, of 
course. According to the rules attaching to the League's 
use of the Swiss short-wave station we had to give twenty- 
four hours' notice and submit the manuscript if required. 
Since that was impossible in this case, we ordered telephone 
facilities via London and a radio telephone channel from 
Rugby to New York. I notified the British Post Office that 
the Baron would speak. 

About 6 P.M. five hours before the broadcast I was 
told that no facilities would be available for Aloisi or any 
other Italian. No argument would convince the officials in 
charge that this fiat would have a bad effect. In Rickett's 
case we had agreed to cancel a broadcast because the Italians 
were a friendly nation; now we were asked to cancel one 
because they weren't. It was bewildering. 

For the next five hours I was in a stew. I tried to find offi- 
cials of the League to see whether we could use the Geneva 
transmitter after all; we even tried to set up a channel via 
Berlin. Everybody had gone underground. Sitting in Lon- 
don, I kept the telephone hot all evening; but not even 
my friend Mowrer could be located. To calm his nerves 
he'd gone to a cinema! At five minutes to eleven I reached 
him as he walked into the Geneva studio, with the Baron 
on his arm. I told my tragic tale. The talk was off. The 
Baron, speech in hand, had to be told. He acted like a gen- 
tleman, pocketed his script and stalked out. Next morning 
he was en route to Rome. 

I never felt so 'licked'; and wired an apology to New 
York. Back came the answer: 


336 Hello America! 

The American front pages carried streamer headlines 
reading 'First Sanctions on Italy Imposed. Aloisi Forbidden 
to Talk,' in many variations. 

Somebody had blundered, no doubt. And it was costly. 
For three days later the suave Baron (who had distinguished 
himself in the war by organizing an amazing burglary of 
Austrian secret documents from a consulate in Switzerland), 
walked into the Rome studios, whence the same interview, 
with added spice, was short-waved to America on a Sunday 
afternoon. In the interim the publicity had been tremen- 
dous and all America was on tiptoe. He gave the Italian 
case, in polished, noble-sounding phrases. It was almost 

Nothing like this is likely ever to happen again. Firstly, 
because British government officials human though they 
are rarely make the same mistake twice. And secondly, 
the United States-European telephone monopoly, held 
by Great Britain and the American Telephone and Tele- 
graph Company for years, has been split in two at the 
European end. The second terminus is Paris. It's an ill 
wind . 


There is just one more episode which illustrates the lin- 
gering imperfection of our instrument or the frailty of 
the human ear. The International Society for Contempo- 
rary Music, which I had helped to found in Salzburg fourteen 
years before, was giving its annual festival in Barcelona in 
1936. The civil war hadn't yet broken out, and everything 
was as peaceful as could be. Telephone lines were intact and 
the short-wave station at Madrid was working very well. 
There was no reason why the route which had carried the 
singing of ancient music by the monks of Montserrat should 
not also carry the music of our day. 

We arranged for the transmission of one orchestral work 

Fisherman's Luck 337 

the only one by an American in this musical Olympiad. It 
was Carl Ruggles's symphonic piece, 'Sun Treader.' Carl 
Ruggles is a middle-aged musical Gandhi whose word is 
law to a faithful band of disciples and whose every note is 

to the initiates like a rare pearl; also, it takes about 
as long for these musical pearls as for real pearls to mature. 
And they come in strange clusters, too, like seed pearls, 
producing the weirdest harmonies or cacophonies ever 

The first piece by Ruggles I ever heard was called 'An- 
gels* and was scored for six trumpets. When it was played, 
at one of the earliest Contemporary Music Festivals, in 
Venice, no six trumpeters could be got together until some- 
body thought of the Municipal Band, playing the 'Aida' over- 
ture on the Piazza of St. Mark's. So they were recruited 
and drilled to play Ruggles: it is said that their ears haven't 
been right since. 

Well, this new piece of Ruggles' was, if anything, even 
more advanced. When the time came for the broadcast 
a difficult one to arrange, because no Barcelona concert had 
ever been known to start on time I listened at my receiver 
in London. The radio channel from Madrid to New York 
was perfect, and the engineers who were chatting over it by 
way of test said 'O.K.' Then came the telephone line from 
Barcelona; it wasn't quite so clear, but that too was finally 
passed. Then started the announcement of the program 
from Barcelona; I understood every word. And then the 

Suddenly the circuit was interrupted; New York was in- 
quiring of Madrid what was wrong, and Madrid was scold- 
ing Barcelona. They tried again; they tried a third time. 
Each time the New York engineers made some remark 
which could not be heard on my little receiver, but could be 
guessed from the worried answers of the Spanish engineers. 
Finally New York, after listening to some more of the strange 
harmonies, decided to cancel and cut off. I a powerless 
bystander had no means of warning them. But I felt 
sure I knew what was wrong: I had heard 'Angels' twelve 
years ago, when there was no short wave. And Ruggles by 

338 Hello ^America! 

radio sounded just the same. The radio engineers didn't 
know ultramodern music; they were like the nearly deaf 
old lady at a modernist concert, who after shaking her ear 
trumpet again and again, shook her head and walked out. 
They weren't inured to 'atonality,' and mistook the music 
for interference, or static, or something worse. 

I thought this very bad luck, especially as I remembered 
that not long ago the same engineers had accepted the 
explosions of erupting Vesuvius as legitimate program ma- 
terial from my friend, Max Jordan, of the N.B.C., though 
he certainly deserved his luck, after all the effort and 
preparation of months. 

Vesuvius hadn't made a respectable noise for years. The 
minor explosions in its crater are just so many gassy puffs. 
The Neapolitan engineers laughed when I asked them about 
that broadcast from the fiery mountain one of Max's 
long-nursed pet ideas when it was first projected. 'Ha!' 
they said; 'it's no good. We've been up there several times 
and each time it's the same: pfff, pfff that's all. And the 
deeper you go down the softer it gets, because the real 
crater is behind the corona, and nobody ever gets to that.' 
Moreover, the Italians had no equipment that could be 
carted up the steep, lava-strewn slope. 

Well, Max got the New York engineers to send over a 
specially light American portable transmitter and the requi- 
site gear. It was hoisted up and put into place. A half-hour 
before the broadcast all was as quiet as ever: only 'pfff!' 
Then, just as they get started, Vesuvius opens up, for the 
first time in years, to please the American listener, and goes 
' boommmm.' And again ' boom-boom ' and so on through 
the repertoire. It was a great success, so much so that one 
of the microphones got swallowed up by the fury of Vesu- 
vius's bad temper which made the show more realistic 
to the folks at home. 

'But how,' said a skeptical Italian to me some time after, 
'did they know it was Vesuvius and not just blasting 
on the roads? Are your American listeners so trusting?' 
(Well, they are; some people might even call them gullible.) 

Now I have a grudge against those above-mentioned New 

Fisherman's Luck 339 

York engineers. They passed 'boom-boom* as authentic, 
but they didn't believe the modern American composer . . . 

Yes, people do take too much for granted. They drink 
in a dictator's words or a roar produced in the African jungle 
as though these were being run off in an effects room around 
the corner. And when they've heard them, they say a-hum 
and turn over to the next selection of 'swing/ Also, if the 
ether waves crackle, or your broadcaster (who may have 
braved death to tell his tale) has a cold, they sniff, and turn 
the dial again. Ten or twenty years later they'll be acting 
the same way when a picture of Vesuvius in action or a 
gray-haired Mussolini is flashed on the television screen. 

Maybe, after all, it's only the player who really enjoys the 


Systems and Policies 



IN THE year 1913 two young engineers working in the 
electrical laboratories of the Royal Palace of Laeken, 
near Brussels, were experimenting with the new wonders of 
the wireless telephone. The world's first wireless telephone 
circuit had recently been established in Germany, and ama- 
teurs everywhere were constructing strange-looking con- 
traptions for the capturing of radio waves. The two young 
engineers, pupils of the great French pioneer, Ferrie, were 
transmitting daily, first Morse, then actual sound, using a 
grotesquely primitive device a jet of water impinging on 
a rotating copper electrode to produce the requisite electrical 
oscillations. To vary the monotony and save their 
voices they conceived the idea of transmitting phono- 
graph records in their tests. Presently letters came in from 
grateful amateurs, asking for more; and, for a lark, Messrs. 
Raymond Braillard and Robert Goldschmidt began trans- 
mitting a series of 'concerts' every Saturday afternoon. 

Soon the Royal Family became interested, and one day 
a real concert, with live artists, was given under the patron- 
age of Queen Elisabeth of the Belgians. It was 'broadcast* 
to the amateurs in the presence of a select audience; and the 
amateurs with their home-made receivers their musical 
'Aladdin's lamps' thought they were in the Arabian 
Nights indeed. That was the first true studio broadcast on 
record; and might have been the beginning of great things 
had not the sound of cannon, coming from the east, cut 
the young pioneers short. It was August, 1914. The two 

344 Hello ^America! 

young men, like everyone else, went off to war, and radio, 
having groped its way to the very threshold of its great joy- 
giving task, went to work in Europe's charnel house. 

Twenty years later Raymond Braillard, one of the two 
pioneer broadcasters, reproduced that historic first concert 
on its anniversary day for the amusement of radio fans; and 
all Belgium listened. Braillard, by then, was the chief en- 
gineer of the International Broadcasting Union, Europe's 
' traffic policeman of the air/ patrolling the ether lanes of the 
world from a point not far from where their first experiments 
intrigued the amateurs. Much very much had hap- 
pened in the intervening years. 

To understand the history of European broadcasting one 
must never forget the World War. From the firing of the 
first gun in August, 1914, radio became the hand-maiden 
of the destroyer; the war departments, the strategists, the 
military engineers determined its further course, developed 
one side of its possibilities, just as they developed one side 
of the possibilities of aviation to the detriment of the 
future of both. And they\lso developed a fear a morbid 
dread of science's latest child, if it should ever leave the 
tutelage of those in charge of a country's defence. That in 
part explains why the governments of Europe, once their 
hands were on radio, first refused to loosen their grip, and 
then continued to hold over it a 'protecting' hand, which 
was later to tighten into a stranglehold. 

First in France, then in one country after another, the au- 
thorities opposed the introduction of broadcasting by radio. 
Severe restrictions were placed in the way of amateurs: play- 
ing with radio waves which travelled across frontiers as 
easily as within them was to the war mentality worse 
than playing with fire. Even the postal authorities made 
trouble. In June, 1920, when Melba's voice was radiated 
from the Marconi station in England, in a historic concert 
organized by the Daily Mail, the postmaster-general pro- 
tested against this * frivolous' use of a potential national 
service. In Germany, Dr. Hans von Bredow, the radio 
pioneer who had demonstrated the radio diffusion of music 
in America before the war, tried to persuade the German 

T^adio Over Europe 345 

government in 1919 to institute broadcast entertainment, 
but wasn't successful until 1923! 

When they finally yielded to popular pressure, it was the 
authorities themselves who had to regulate broadcasting, 
at least on the technical side. By that time the state of chaos 
which overtook the American air after the first scramble for 
ether channels, or wave lengths, had already set in. The 
European chaos would have been even worse, had the door 
been opened wide to private enterprise. As it was, each 
country took what it could, anxious primarily to avoid con- 
fusion within its own borders and escape interference from 
abroad a forlorn hope in view of the strides by which 
radio grew up, in terms of watts and kilowatts. Soon it was 
realized that the European air had to be apportioned as a 
whole, and it was a comfort at least to realize that not more 
than about thirty national claims had to be reconciled, 
instead of the thousand-odd individual claims to be dealt 
with in the United States. 


The development of European radio is an interesting 
story, and it can perhaps be best understood by comparison 
with America. The United States is a country almost 
exactly the size of Europe (difference: 12,000 square miles 
in favor of Europe). It has forty-eight states, against 
Europe's forty. In area and division, therefore, the two are 
similar, and if their populations differ as one to four (in 
favor of Europe), their racial basis is almost the same. But 
there are two vital differences. The United States has one 
official language, while Europe has twenty-five, not in- 
cluding dialects; and American states have only partial 
autonomy while European states boast complete sover- 
eignty, backed up by force. It is no use discussing here 
why they adhere to this troublesome privilege; it happens 
to be rooted in the soil of ages, and is as dear to them as 
personality is to the individual man. 

346 Hello ^America! 

Now when Americans came to divide up, among private 
individuals, the most recently discovered of the nation's 
domains, the ether, none of the forty-eight states had a 
thing to say. No one in Santa Fe, New Mexico, or Cheyenne, 
Wyoming, for instance, got worked up about states' rights, 
or even state pride, when most radio channels were assigned 
to broadcasters in the eastern states. But when Europeans, 
armed with state sovereignty, and loaded with national 
pride, came together for a similar purpose, imagine their 
difficulties when asked to relinquish a wave length or to 
reduce the power of a station for the benefit of a foreigner 
and a potential enemy! Great Britain, first in the field, 
and 'in possession' of twenty-two frequencies, had to 
sacrifice eleven of them in the interest of Europe as a whole. 

Moreover, if there was any trouble among American 
broadcasters, the Federal government could settle it out 
of hand, by virtue of its constitutional power. In Europe 
there was no central authority that could settle anything 
except by going to war. The wonder is, not that the ideal 
solution was not found, but that a workable plan was 
established at all. It was established through peaceful 
negotiation, on the principle of give-and-take, by a private 
and voluntary organization, the International Broadcasting 
Union (U.I.R.). 1 European ether waves are today being 
projected without serious interference, and broadcasting 
traffic is being regulated by a common ' policeman ' the 
Union's checking centre at Brussels maintained at the 
common expense. 

In other words, radio has achieved unofficially 
what the European governments profess to be striving for, 
a League of Nations which works. By successive * plans,' 
worked out from 1926 to 1929 by the engineers of 
various nations (Geneva Plan, Brussels Plan, Prague Plan) 
they apportioned the available frequencies within the so- 
called broadcast band among the broadcasting countries, 
and these became the basis of the more recent Lucerne Plan, 
adopted by the governments themselves. By virtue of its 

1 Union Internationale de Radiodiffusion, with its central office in Geneva, and 
its technical department Centre de Controle in Brussels. 

T^adio Over Europe 347 

work the U.I.R. became the official broadcasting 'expert* 
to the governmental bodies regulating radio services as a 
whole. (Communications, marine, aviation, army, navy, 
police, etc. occupy overwhelmingly the available ether 

Significantly enough, the U.I.R. was founded (in 1925) in 
the old building of the League of Nations, where it now 
maintains its headquarters, while the League has moved to 
its immense white palace further up the lake. Under the 
presidency, first of Admiral Sir Charles Carpendale of 
Great Britain, then of M. Maurice Rambert of Switzerland, 
it has increased its influence through the world, and broad- 
casting in the European area would be unthinkable without 
it. Its Centre de Contrble, or checking centre, where the 
operation of all broadcasting waves is observed day and 
night, and where all necessary rectifications are initiated, 
is still located on the outskirts of Brussels not far from 
the spot where the first attempts at broadcasting took place 
before the war. It is the nerve centre of European broad- 
casting, the Greenwich of the Air. 1 

The U.I.R., besides regulating the ether traffic, has other 
important functions, such as the common discussion of legal 
questions and the various problems with which a profes- 
sional body deals on behalf of its members, insofar as they 
are susceptible of international treatment. And above all, 
by virtue of the natural cameraderie which develops among 
colleagues, it has pursued with considerable energy the 
aims of international understanding and good will, by 
organizing program exchanges and collective transmissions 
designed to promote world solidarity. 

First there were 'national evenings/ then 'European con- 
certs/ and finally world programs, of which 'Youth Sings 
Across the Frontiers' in 1936, comprising over forty nations 
in all the continents, was the first. In 1936 there have been 

1 Accuracy in maintaining frequency oscillations is all the more important since 
in the crowded European ether there are only 9 cycles of separation between broad- 
casting waves. (In the United States the separation is 10 cycles.) Also, it must be 
remembered that there is no central authority to limit the power of stations, some 
of which develop up to 500 kilowatts. 

348 Hello ^America! 

no less than 1550 exchanges of programs among European 
countries, nearly all of which were due to Union initiative. 
These multiple relays are the nearest European approach 
to 'chain* broadcasting on a continental scale, such as exists 
in America but which is ruled out by the existence of national 
frontiers in Europe. In order to make them possible, the 
Union has exerted a constant influence on the national tele- 
phone administrations, with the result that the European 
telephone network has greatly improved in quality and most 
of the great international trunk lines have been adapted for 
the transmission of music. The wider activity of the organi- 
zation, on behalf of Peace, will be touched upon in Chapter 

Once broadcasting got into its stride in Europe, its develop- 
ment, if more orderly, was no less prodigious than in America. 
After some abortive French attempts in 1921 and 1922, 
Great Britain was the first in the field. The Marconi Com- 
pany started its experiments at Writtle in the latter year; 
and the British Broadcasting Company (later called Cor- 
poration) was founded, with stations in London, Manchester 
and Birmingham. France, Denmark and Russia followed; 
then, in 1923, Germany, Belgium, Finland, Norway, Swit- 
zerland and Czechoslovakia. By the end of 1925 eighteen 
European countries had organized services; there are now 
thirty, operating about 400 medium and long-wave stations 
on 357 frequencies. Albania, Liechtenstein, Monaco and 
Andorra have no broadcasting of their own as yet. 

According to the latest available licence figures there are 
nearly twenty-eight million stationary radio sets in operation 
in Europe (including the U.S.S.R. and Turkey), as against 
twenty-five million in the United States, and it is estimated 
that there are between two and three million undeclared sets 
in addition. The actual European radio audience is, of 
course, much larger than the American, since owing to the 
lower economic status of most countries, and the develop- 
ment of group listening in some, an immeasurably greater 
number of people are served by the average set. 

Group listening is the rule rather than the exception in 

T^adio Over Europe 349 

Russia, where one loud-speaker often serves a whole village; 
it is widely developed in Germany, where every school, every 
factory and numerous public places are equipped with 
loud-speakers, and listening to certain 'official' broadcasts is 
obligatory. It is common in Italy, where a group or crowd 
listening outside the local store or inn, especially at times of 
football matches and other sporting events, is a common 
sight. Finally there are in many countries so-called radio 
exchanges or local relay systems by wire, through which the 
poorer public is being served from a central set. 

To give a picture of broadcasting in the various countries 
of Europe would require a large volume in itself. No such 
book has yet appeared in English, though to French-speaking 
readers I should recommend Arnold Huth's Radiodijfusion 
Puissance Mondiale^ x a work of encyclopedic proportions. 
What I shall attempt to do very briefly is to give the out- 
standing principles on which European radio is organized 
and operated, and point out the characteristics of the out- 
standing prototype of each system. 

American radio is run by private enterprise; European 
radio is, almost without exception, either operated or con- 
trolled by organs of the government. We have seen how the 
war was largely responsible for this: but even if private enter- 
prise had been given a larger share, it is still certain that in 
the absence of a central European authority the govern- 
ments would have had to regulate transmissions as a part 
of the communications system of the continent. And it is 
an interesting speculation whether the 'older* mentality of 
many European countries would ever have allowed the com- 
plete freedom of 'juvenile* America, the great playboy of the 


Europe never could regard radio as just another enter- 
tainment industry: it was too inclusive, too universal, for 

1 Paris, 1937. 

350 Hello ^America! 

that; and universality imposes responsibility. Radio has 
everything except the power to select its audience; it must 
provide for all or for none. The people who go to the cinema 
do so because they wish to be amused or instructed; those 
who listen to the radio are animated by every sort of human 
des*ire some want diversion, some instruction, some want 
solace and others information. The instrument which sup- 
plies all these, to all, and at all times, is first and foremost a 
public service a public service which can do even more, 
can make the community conscious of itself, fortify the 
national character, rally people to a common task, warn 
them of danger, avert a crisis and alleviate distress. On the 
other hand there are conceivably people who will deny that 
any such obligations exist. 

Be that as it may, it is certain that government operation 
is not exclusively associated with dictatorship, nor is it in 
itself any indication of the degree of political restriction to 
which broadcasting is subjected. There are, for instance, 
democratic countries like Denmark and Norway, where 
government ownership is preferred to private exploitation, 
after both forms have been tried. On the other hand, there 
is Italy, where private ownership does not prevent the state 
from exercising the severest control. France, a country in 
which democracy and individual liberty are the fundamental 
principles of society, has given a wide scope to private enter- 
prise; yet has found it advisable to add a governmental 
system in order to secure something more than the kind of 
entertainment with which the advertiser attracts an audience. 

Between the two extremes of government control there is 
the system of operation by a chartered public service cor- 
poration, which escapes the disadvantages of close govern- 
ment interference on the one hand, and of the profit system 
on the other. Of this Great Britain, with its genius for com- 
promise, is the prototype. And finally there is the unique 
system of Holland, where the listeners themselves, organized 
in voluntary societies, provide the program organizations, 
while the government merely shares ownership of the trans- 
mitters, which are leased for alternate periods to the five 
societies. Since these are supported by the voluntary contri- 

T^adio Over Europe 351 

butions of their members, in the absence of either adver- 
tising or compulsory payment of any kind, it is in the last 
analysis the interested amateur who determines the intellec- 
tual bill of fare. 

In virtually all the other European countries except 
Luxemburg, broadcasting is financed by the so-called licens- 
ing system, by which every person operating a receiving set 
pays an annual fee, ranging from $2.00 to $3.00, for the pri- 
vilege of receiving programs. The most usual fee is an 
equivalent of about $2.50. In every case this is collected 
through the postal authorities, who usually retain a propor- 
tion for collection expense, and in most cases deliver a part 
of the total fee to the national treasury. The proportion in 
Great Britain at present is a total of 25 per cent total govern- 
ment deduction. 

It is important to distinguish between a radio license 
(which corresponds to a motor-car license) and a tax. It is 
not a tax, since it is not based either on the price of a pro- 
duct or the income level of the citizen (though there are re- 
missions for invalids, crippled veterans and the like). It is, 
in effect, an entrance fee to a year's performances supplied 
through the facilities or the franchise of the government. 

Germany, Russia and Italy, in their several ways, illus- 
trate the system of government-controlled radio in the 
authoritarian state. Germany, perhaps, is the best example 
of all, for radio reached a certain development there even 
before the advent of the Nazi dictatorship. 


When the government of republican Germany finally 
yielded to the importunities of its radio pioneer, Dr. Bredow, 
backed by pressure from radio clubs and press, it allowed 
private enterprise considerable scope in the various com- 
ponent parts of the Reich, with the idea of preserving local 

352. Hello ^America! 

autonomy and regional characteristics. Companies were 
formed in which the government owned the controlling half 
of the shares, to operate transmitters erected in various parts 
by the technical staff of the postal administration and owned 
by the government. There was also a central holding com- 
pany, the Reichs-Rundfunkgesellschaft (R.R.G.), headed 
by two joint directors, and there were various committees 
to supervise program material and exercise political vigilance. 
Dr. Bredow became Federal Commissar to supervise radio 
on behalf of the postal authorities. 

Despite the heterogeneous structure of this complicated 
organization, a high degree of artistic quality went into the 
making of programs, and Germany's great treasure-house of 
music was tapped for the benefit of the masses with the help 
of a host of first-rate artists, orchestras and opera houses in 
various parts of the country. There was a fair balance of 
political discussion and a minimum of propaganda. Techni- 
cally the organization, thanks to German ingenuity and 
efficiency, soon stood in the front rank of the world's radio. 
Artistically it encouraged research and contributed original 
experiments, such as special forms of radio drama and music 
specifically composed for radio. Nowhere were the young 
leaders of music and literature more keenly interested in 
developing new ideas and new art forms for broadcasting. 

The Nazi coup of 1933 destroyed the old organization at a 
stroke. The new regime substituted an almost completely 
new personnel, which had been built up as a sort of ' shadow 
administration* within the Nazi-dominated Listeners' 
League while the party was still in militant opposition. Dr. 
Eugen Hadamowsky, the head of that revolutionary organ- 
ization, became the new ' leader' of the R.R.G., and the old 
directors, as well as the eminent Dr. Bredow, were soon 
under arrest on a variety of charges. But the supreme head, 
above everybody, was and still is Dr. Josef Goebbels, 
minister of 'propaganda and public enlightenment/ who 
immediately proclaimed the right of the state to 'supervise 
the formation of public opinion ' and asserted that the pur- 
pose of all art was to serve the state and exalt the National- 
Socialist ideal. Henceforth the policy of German radio was 

Over Europe 353 

uniform, totalitarian, and subservient to one idea the 
dissemination and inculcation of the Nazi doctrine and the 
aggrandizement of the German state. 

This idea is carried through with the thoroughness for 
which Germans are noted. Even music, the * language of 
humanity/ is given a political bias: not only is German 
music exalted above any other, but some German composers 
are regarded as more German than others. The heroic theme 
is emphasized, and military marches given a predominant 
share in entertainment, to foster the martial spirit. Begin- 
ning with physical culture * jerks* in the morning, numerous 
transmissions are designed to make Germans into a sporting 
athletic nation. The Olympic Games at Berlin gave a new 
impulse to this movement. Conveying an indubitable im- 
pression of Germany's world supremacy in sport, the radio 
has ever since kept up the pace. 

Being at all times under orders of the propaganda organi- 
zation, German broadcasting throws every political event 
into the desired relief. Announcers and commentators have 
made the reportage of open-air demonstrations a fine art, 
strictly in accordance with the model set by Nazi orators. 
Pitching their voices in a high lyrical key, these word- 
painters not only describe every important meeting or 
triumphal appearance of their Leader in radiant colors, but 
aim to make every German feel the thrill of actual presence 
and comradeship. Since on such occasions all German 
stations form a single unit, the citizen has no choice but to 
listen, for even a switched-off loud-speaker might be re- 
garded as disloyal. 

Not content with one transmission, recordings of day- 
time events are re-broadcast in the evening. On the day of 
a Nuremberg rally, for instance, the entire time is filled with 
high-flown descriptions of triumphant scenes, against a back- 
ground of cheering masses and the music of military bands 
a cumulative effort at mass suggestion such as the world has 
never witnessed before. 

The climax to such a day is, of course, the speech of the 
Fuhrer himself, and radical precautions are taken throughout 
the land that it is heard by all. Sirens in factories call men 

354 Hello ^America! 

together; loud-speakers in public squares and villages make 
listening obligatory to the passer-by. In order to make the 
voice of authority more ubiquitous still, loud-speakers are 
being installed in street-corner kiosks, the familiar feature 
of every German town. The complete regimenting of an 
entire population of nearly seventy million people nothing 
less is the unique achievement of German radio during 
the first five years of the present regime. 

It would be giving a false picture of this remarkable coun- 
try to omit mention of the still excellent and sometimes 
superlative broadcasting of operatic and symphonic per- 
formances, which are listened to not only in Germany but 
beyond its borders. No country had so highly developed 
and decentralized a cultivation of musical and dramatic art, 
and even the ruthless removal of 'undesirable* talent has 
not destroyed all these values, created through the tradition 
of centuries. From the Munich and Bayreuth Festivals 
down to the studio performance of classical chamber music 
these broadcasts are exemplary; but beside them is a dreary 
waste of 'light* music and banal comedy, cut to the taste of 
the provincial low-brow and the yokel. 

The spoken word, on whatever text, is tuned in the key of 
propaganda. Whether it is a book review or a talk on furni- 
ture or the fire brigade, it extols the national revival, and 
mostly it is pitched in the explosive style of the Nazi orator. 
Normal speech, except in the reading of news bulletins, is a 
rare exception; and news bulletins, read with studied objec- 
tivity, rely upon the arts of interpretation and omission for 
their effect. What the ultimate effect of all this is likely to 
be one can only surmise; but the fact that nearly 40,000 
schools receive six daily half-hour lessons by radio per week 
means that virtually the entire youth of Germany has its 
mind tuned to the nationalistic key. 

T^adio Over Europe 355 


In Russia and Italy, as in Germany, the radio is the 
complete servant of the state and the protagonist of its 
political doctrine. But in both of these countries the regime 
antedated the coming of radio; it was not, therefore, neces- 
sary to destroy in order to build; and the fervor of destruc- 
tion is always likely to out-run discretion. Soviet and Fas- 
cist broadcasting was conceived as such from the ground up. 

Thus in Italy, whereas state supervision is complete in the 
political sphere, essentially nothing was altered on the 
artistic side. The E.I.A.R., 1 a private company working for 
only nominal profit, is in the position of a concessionaire 
operating a national monopoly; by virtue of a government 
decree it has unfettered access to the output of all the 
musical, operatic, dramatic and other entertainment organi- 
zations in the country, for which it pays with cash subsidies 
through the various professional 'corporations' (syndicates). 
It broadcasts the best performances of the Scala and other 
opera houses, the leading orchestras, musical societies, etc., 
and during the 'dead* season provides its own series of studio 
operas with first-class artists. Opera is outstandingly the 
favorite entertainment of the Italian masses, and it is the 
pride and glory of Italian radio, which devotes nearly 45 
per cent of its time to serious music. These transmissions 
leave little to be desired. So-called ' light ' and dance music 
is a negligible quantity in Italian broadcasting, and the 
comic element is virtually non-existent. 

The E.I.A.R.'S purely artistic offerings are not unduly in- 
fluenced by the political regime, which, however, exacts a 
considerable amount of time for rural and agricultural educa- 
tion of prime importance to a country like Italy. Musso- 
lini, himself a child of the Italian village, decreed that 'the 
village must have radio'; and despite his poverty the Italian 
peasant is, by dint of community listening, becoming radio- 

1 Ente Italiana per Audizione Radiofoniche. 

356 Hello ^America! 

But the Fascist government also takes a large share of 
available time for its own propagandistic purposes: two 
hours daily for official statements, three periods a week for 
'special transmissions' of political complexion. A quarter 
of all broadcasting time is devoted to news, 'news' and 
'propaganda* being virtually synonymous in dictatorship 
countries. However, as Italy's sixteen stations are divided 
into two parallel chains, listeners may have a certain amount 
of choice, except on days when the great demonstrations of 
party and regime overshadow all else. 

Be it noted, for what it is worth, that in the proportion of 
radio sets to population, Italy is at the bottom of the world 


Geography and language combine to make Russian broad- 
casting aside from short-wave propaganda a closed 
book to the western world. It would be presumptuous to 
deal in a few paragraphs with a subject so vast. The follow- 
ing remarks are inadequate and aim to indicate only the 
general trend. 

Soviet radio organization represents state paternalism in 
its most undiluted form, for the state not only owns and 
runs everything from technical construction and re- 
search to program production; it must also provide the 
means of program reception and organized listening, down to 
the last factory, farm and village school. Since there was 
no private capital or enterprise in Russia, the Soviets had to 
be manufacturer and artist, producer and consumer, in 
exploiting the new discovery for the benefit of 170,000,000 
people, settled on an area of 8^ million square miles (in 
Europe and Asia) more than twice the size of the United 
States and about eighty-five times the size of Great Britain. 
If we bear in mind that 95 per cent of these people were illit- 
erate up to twenty years ago, that they comprise two 

*I(adio Over Europe 357 

hundred nationalities, speaking sixty-five languages and 
dialects, we get a mere inkling of the task that is involved. 

Allowing for the undeniably important share of communist 
and nationalist propaganda, the keynote of Russian radio 
today is and must be education. Its mission the most 
prodigious ever entrusted to a single organization is the 
tutoring of this multi-nation, left intellectually prostrate 
through the centuries. And this is a country where communi- 
cations were, and still very largely are, in a primitive state, 
where telegraph and telephone did not lie ready to hand to 
link up a network of stations, and where the ether alone 
provided a clear path to the remoter regions of the land. 

Today, by means of some forty-odd stations, ranging 
from the 5oo-kilowatt giant at Moscow to the little 10- 
kilowatt transmitter of the localities, Russia is after a fashion 
1 covered* from end to end, and even the dweller of the 
Arctic regions is supplied with programs especially designed 
for him. The program service is provided by a central Com- 
mittee attached to the Council of People's Commissars, aided 
by some seventy regional committees twenty-seven in 
Russia proper, the rest in the 'autonomous* Soviets, where 
broadcasting is done in the languages of the various nation- 
alities and tribes. According to official figures, nearly sixty 
per cent of all time is devoted to classical and folk-music, 
over 17 per cent to genuine education, for children and 
adults, exclusive of physical training, and roughly 16 per cent 
to news and politics. Sovietism is twenty years old; hence 
over 30 per cent of the population has grown up under the 
present regime. Propaganda, therefore, need not be so all- 
embracing as in the younger dictatorships. 

One interesting detail should be mentioned. Listening in 
Russia, with less than a million individual radio sets in 
operation, must needs be predominantly communal. The 
vast majority of listening is done, therefore, either in the 
village hall or school and at loud-speakers connected by wire 
to a local 'radio exchange.' Every collective farm, every 
factory is, or will eventually be, equipped in this way. 
Capital for programs and operation is provided by a sliding 
scale of charges, ranging from three rubles for a crystal set 

358 Hello ^America! 

to fifty rubles for the best valve set or a radio exchange for 
collective use. 

State monopoly, accompanied in the three ' totalitarian ' 
states by complete ' ideological' control, ranges through 
various degrees of supervision down to free democratic 
functioning, as in Denmark and Norway, where broadcasting 
is wholly non-political (except for election purposes) a 
civil service designed in the public interest and with the pub- 
lic's benevolent collaboration. The profit motive is elimi- 
nated in these countries; there is of course no advertising, and 
revenue is collected in the form of licenses. Denmark, largely 
by virtue of a well-balanced program schedule, in which in- 
formative lectures occupy an uncommonly high percentage 
of time, stands first on the list of European countries as to 
density of audience. Its proportion of radio homes is only 
slightly less than in the United States, although sets are far 
more expensive and the license is 10 crowns ($2.50 per year). 
These small countries enjoy a special advantage in the prox- 
imity of other countries which afford ample opportunity of 
program choice. Reciprocally they provide a welcome variety 
to the listeners of their neighbors, including those of Great 
Britain and Germany. 


Between the all-political and the non-political extremes 
lies the ingenious compromise devised by Great Britain 
an autonomous chartered corporation, non-profit making, 
licensed to provide a public service, and financed by a 75 
per cent share of listeners' licenses collected by the Post 
Office. Though its Board of Governors is appointed by the 
Crown with the advice of the government of the day, it is 
non-partisan, like the civil service; but unlike the civil 
service it has complete freedom in the choice and promotion 
of its employees, thus giving ample opportunity for enter- 
prise and ability. 

*(adio Over urope 359 

Whatever one may say about the B.B.C., whose programs 
are internationally better known than those of any other 
European broadcasting organization, it does reflect the 
character of the British nation and the British conception 
of democracy. British patriotism is a compound of pride, 
complacency and benevolence: orderly habits and relaxed 
tolerance, pious confidence and easy humor make up a 
mentality which dislikes all exaggeration, avoids excitement 
and eschews undue competitive effort outside of sport. The 
B.B.C. appeals to all these characteristics of the British 
citizen, as well as to his philanthropy. 

British radio programs are the only ones which begin every 
news period with S.O.S. messages; no Briton need die in 
loneliness if any of his relatives are within reach of the ether 
waves. Every Sunday sees not only its religious services but 
its appeal for a good cause. A million dollars was the re- 
sponse to these appeals during a single year. Every day be- 
gins with morning prayer, ends with a comforting epilogue. 
Every year, through B.B.C. appeals, charity procures more 
radios for the blind. 

By means of fourteen principal stations (three of them 
synchronized) ranging from one hundred and fifty kilowatts 
to five kilowatts, plus four small relay stations, the B.B.C. 
affords effective coverage to the territory under its jurisdic- 
tion (all Great Britain and Northern Ireland) in such a 
way that two alternate programs are everywhere available 
(National and Regional), while many localities theoretically 
can tune in to six. While the six 'regions' provide a large 
part of their own programs, with due regard for 'national' 
interest and language in the case of Scotland, Ireland, and 
Wales, it is rare that all of them differ at one time, and at 
many periods especially Sundays there is no alter- 
native to the national program. This is the subject of much 
criticism, but here, too, charitable toleration is exercised, 
for it is recognized that broadcasters require leisure, like other 

Artistic and technical quality is as high as any in Europe 
and, in some respects, America. The B.B.C. Symphony 
Orchestra, the musical pride of the country, playing either 

360 Hello ^America! 

under its own conductor or distinguished foreign guests such 
as Toscanini, is today reckoned in the front rank of the 
world's orchestras. Several smaller orchestras, for lighter 
music, and choral organizations achieve similar standards. 
Light music occupies a rather high percentage of time; out- 
and-out dance music as a rule is available only at late hours. 
Radio drama is taken very seriously and has reached a high 
degree of production technique, while musical comedy and 
vaudeville are regular favorites with the public. Altogether 
music occupies 69 per cent of the time. 

Someone has remarked that the ' news' is the Mickey 
Mouse of the B.B.C., meaning that it is the most popular 
of all radio programs. It is certainly listened to in all circles 
of society with almost religious constancy and that is due 
both to its unfailing regularity and to the impartiality with 
which it is edited. It is often supplemented by 'flashed-in' 
talks of observers on the spot, and feature talks by experts, 
in the manner of newspaper commentary or editorial com- 

But the highest standard has been established in the de- 
partment of lectures on every conceivable subject, with the 
collaboration of the greatest experts and personalities in the 
country. Controversial matter, at first excluded, is now per- 
mitted, with speakers on both sides of the question, or 
in the form of debates. The pleasant British fiction that 
there must be two sides and no more to every argu- 
ment works as admirably on the air as in Parliament. 
Contrary to most other countries, there is no direct govern- 
ment supervision, and the spectacle of an Advisory Council 
with an archbishop as chairman and George Bernard Shaw 
as an active member gives an indication of the broad- 
minded impartiality which obtains. School broadcasting has 
been developed to a high standard of efficiency, and adult 
education, supplemented by the organization of 'discussion 
groups' among listeners is regarded as especially important. 

The social service interests of certain members of the 
B.B.C. staff, at one stage especially, gave rise to some out- 
standing series of talks; for instance, unemployed men of all 
kinds were asked to the microphone to tell their stories 

o Over Europe 361 

a deeply moving human document which had serious reper- 
cussions in Parliament. 


When British listeners get bored with the B.B.C. and 
there is no doubt that some do, especially on Sundays 
they turn the dial an inch or so to the right and get Luxem- 
burg. Luxemburg, as a country, is one of the smallest and 
most charming on the continent. In terms of radio it is the 
Bad Boy of Europe. The very name is anathema to the 
radio nabobs; it is not admitted to membership in the U.I.R.; 
its programs are boycotted by the 'official* radio magazines. 

The reason for all this is twofold. Luxemburg, as ' sover- 
eign * a state as any in Europe, a few years ago chose a wave- 
length, just as everybody else had chosen while the choosing 
was good. But most of the previous choices had received the 
Union's blessings, and when Luxemburg awoke to the pos- 
sibilities of radio, there was just one good long wave left 
unassigned, because the merits of the various big claimants 
had not been decided. Without a 'by your leave,' Luxem- 
burg took the wave, put one hundred and fifty kilowatts of 
power behind it and so became the smallest broadcasting 
country with the loudest voice. 1 

The motive behind this manoeuvre was, for once, not 
political but commercial. Luxemburg station is a commercial 
enterprise a radio station ti FA merica ine, financed by 
advertising. It advertises patent medicines and a few other 
things not of course to attract merely the 300,000 Luxem- 
burgers but chiefly and frankly the forty-odd millions of 
inhabitants of the British Isles, for the 'announcements' 
are mostly in English. Its programs are the most unexacting 
in Europe; it makes little pretense at cultural values; it 
gives the British low-brow what it thinks he wants, and 

1 'Long* waves in Europe are those over 1500 metres (which in the U.S. are not 
available for broadcasting); those under 1000 metres are known as medium waves. 

361 Hello ^America! 

apparently its efforts are crowned with success. Luxem- 
burgers, whose government benefits by a fat share of the 
profits, get radio programs without paying for them, espe- 
cially on weekdays, when the sponsored programs give way to 
something more in keeping with the local taste. Having 
applied the 'American system* to the European scene, 
Luxemburg represents the single 100 per cent example of 
untrammelled private enterprise. Its inhabitants tolerate 
it, as the inhabitants of Monaco tolerate gambling, but 
there is no evidence that they like it. 

Luxemburg, incidentally, is not the only European country 
where radio advertising is permitted. Advertising is 'author- 
ized ' in twelve out of thirty, but only two or three have made 
any extensive use of this source of revenue. The most pro- 
minent of these is France. 


France is not merely a democracy; it is truly democratic. 
It is the classical country of personal liberty and equality, 
of individualism and commercial laissez-faire. Despite the 
experience of the War, despite its incipient socialism, it 
could not abandon the new industry wholly to the state, 
without giving private commercial enterprise a run for its 
money. Hence it decided temporarily in favor of both. 
It established a system of public service broadcasting, run 
by the state, and even persuaded the thrifty French citizen 
to pay an annual licence, after he had the experience of free 
radio for several years. And at the same time it continued 
to authorize private companies, privileged to finance them- 
selves by selling 'time/ It is a tribute to French tolerance 
that the lion could lie down with the lamb. Only one other 
European country presents a similar spectacle, and that is 

There are in France today fourteen government (P.T.T.) 
broadcasting stations (not counting the Colonial short-wave 

o Over Europe 363 

service) and twelve private ones. The government stations 
are connected by cables into a 'chain'; further additions 
will make it possible to diffuse two concurrent programs, 
national and regional, throughout France, while at present 
the national program depends on one station of medium 
power, Radio-Paris. The private stations have no cable 
connection and each works on its own. The government 
stations, animated by the spirit of public service, specialize 
in serious music and drama, lectures and news; the private 
stations, having no cultural obligations, go in for light enter- 
tainment with a dash of higher class material for sweetening. 
News also forms an extensive part of the schedule, and there 
is apparently no attempt at censorship. 

The inspiration of French radio is the theatre opera, 
drama, and comedy. Classic beauty alternates with lyric 
sentimentality and a generous dose of humor and gaiety. 
The national genius for comedy has free play; full-length 
operetta has an important place. The government stations 
have access to the productions of the subventioned theatres 
and there is a large proportion of direct pick-ups from these, 
as from the leading symphony orchestras. Poetry readings, 
lectures on cultural and artistic subjects rather than 'educa- 
tional' subjects predominate. News interpretation, frank 
and fair on the whole, supplements the frequent news bulle- 
tins; together they furnish the largest single item on the 
government schedule. Outdoor pick-ups and commentaries 
on public events occupy a moderate place; regional pro- 
grams add the flavor of the old provinces of France. There is 
very little dance music in the government programs; and 
only a little more in the commercial ones. School broad- 
casting does not exist, nor adult education as such: French- 
men evidently consider they are educated enough. 

Up to 1933, before radio was organized on the licence 
principle, radio listening in France was rather listless; since 
the introduction of the licence system it has gone up by 
leaps and bounds, rising from a little above one million to 
three within three years thus shattering another popular 
notion about the French, namely, that they refuse to pay for 
amusement when it can be had for nothing. 

364 Hello ^America! 

Comprised within the types I have described are virtually 
all the European broadcasting systems allowance being 
made for variations due to national characteristics. Except 
for lack of space I should like to mention in greater detail 
Austria where, with an abundance of high-class material, 
an exemplary program service has been developed, culminat- 
ing in such achievements as the Salzburg Festival. Also 
Belgium and Sweden, like Austria private monopolies, with 
high cultural aims; and Holland and Switzerland, each giving 
satisfaction to a serious-minded audience, with comparatively 
modest means. Switzerland has an added complication in 
the necessity to furnish tri-lingual entertainment, which it 
accomplishes through semi-autonomous regional organiza- 
tions; while Belgium provides concurrent programs to satisfy 
two national language groups. Finland, Hungary, Poland, 
Czechoslovakia, Rumania, and Turkey all have private or 
semi-private companies working government-operated trans- 
mitters; while Bulgaria, Esthonia, the Irish Free State, 
Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Portugal have state-con- 
trolled radio throughout. 

As for Spain, it was, up to the Civil War, served by private 
companies subsisting mainly on advertising; after the out- 
break of hostilities all radio was commandeered by the 
contending sides. What will happen eventually lies in the 
lap of the gods. 

To sum up, broadcasting in Europe is, for the most part, 
either government operated or government controlled. 
The reasons for this are partly, though not altogether, 
political either national or international. And the uses 
to which broadcasting is put, the policy which determines its 
operation, and the degree of government supervision are 
not determined by the economic structure or the system of 
operation, but by the nature and policy of the government 
itself, as will be seen in the next chapter. 

Any mental picture of Europe today must, however, 
include not only the land and the people but the ether above 
them. Day in, day out, night and day, that ether is suffused 
with signals and messages and intellectual projections of 

l^adio Over Europe 365 

every kind a stupendous, close-meshed network of speech 
in many tongues, of music, of significant sounds, the throb- 
bing of a mighty continent breathing out its kaleidoscopic 
soul. And in his watch-tower outside Brussels the watchman 
of the ether wakes, preventing interference and collision. By 
a delicately tempered tuning fork he daily measures every 
wave, though its content is beyond his control. So long as 
this watchman is at his task, the chaos of Europe is at any 
rate not complete. 



IN ANCIENT times, when warring tribes met on the field 
of battle, their leaders went forth to challenge the enemy 
with opprobrium. The fiercer the champion's defiance, the 
more contemptuous his insults and the more bombastic his 
boasts, the more warlike would be the spirit of his followers 
and the fiercer the enemy's hate, until at last their armies 
would join in combat, to show that actions speak louder than 
words. With the introduction of firearms, actions spoke not 
only louder but faster; and with the invention of strategy 
the leader's life became too valuable to be risked in the 
front line. The warrior-challenger became obsolete, so the 
recriminations had to be carried on by diplomats or news- 
paper editors, reaching their mark with much troublesome 

But with the invention of radio, the old-time champion 
has come into his own once more. Instead of going out into 
the field and shouting himself hoarse, he or his minions may 
sit comfortably at a microphone and let their voices go 
forth to their own people to work up pride, and to the enemy 
to demoralize his ranks. There is just one difference: in 
the old days the people who did the talking had to make 
good their talk; nowadays, those who order the talking done 
can send others out to risk their lives. 

If anyone thinks that this interpretation of history is 
merely facetious, let him sit at any good radio set in Europe, 
preferably one that will tune to both long and short waves. 
At various times of the day and evening, right into the 

The Speech-Toisoned *Air 367 

night, he can hear from many countries what is usually an- 
nounced as 'news/ given very accommodatingly not only 
in the language of the country but in languages which 
foreigners understand, notably English, Spanish, and French. 
The reason for this solicitude toward the foreigner becomes 
clear only when one compares the news of some important 
event say a battle in China or the sinking of a merchant- 
man in the Mediterranean as given by the radio inter- 
preters of the different countries. It soon becomes apparent 
that their interpretations are just the subtle modern equiva- 
lent for the opprobrium of the past. 

And as for the boasts? We have a longer word for them 
now, commensurate with their greater sophistication and 
variety, but fundamentally the meaning is the same. The 
word is Propaganda. Broadcast propaganda, both national 
and international, economic and political, is the bane of 
European radio today. The European ether is suffused with 
excellent things beautiful music, drama, ethics, and 
poetry; but all this is shot through with propaganda, just 
as American radio is shot through with advertising. Only, 
while you can always detect advertising, the cloven hoof of 
propaganda is often more subtly concealed. 


Before we examine the various kinds of propaganda, and 
hostile broadcasting generally, it is well to be clear about 
who 'owns* the European air. At the risk of repetition, let 
us summarize thus: out of thirty European national broad- 
casting systems, thirteen are state-owned and operated, 
nine are government monopolies operated by autonomous 
public bodies or partially government-controlled corpora- 
tions, four are physically operated (engineered) by the gov- 
ernment and privately serviced as to programs, while only 
three are privately owned and run. In two countries (France 
and Yugoslavia) government and privately owned com- 
panies exist side by side. 

368 Hello America! 

But all these organizations, whether government or pri- 
vate, are under more or less rigorous state supervision as to 
their policies. In fifteen of them (including the Vatican 
City, which is non-political) political broadcast matter is 
forbidden outright, except that which is broadcast by the 
Government or at its behest. This, it is needless to add, 
includes all the authoritarian countries, as well as some 
others, including Germany, Italy, the U.S.S.R., Austria, 
Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Danzig, Poland, Por- 
tugal, and the Irish Free State. In at least two more coun- 
tries, namely, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, all political 
controversial talks are censored by the state, and in most 
other countries, democratic or otherwise, some sort of cen- 
sorship is exercised by the broadcasting officials themselves, 
though in most cases simply by the standards of law and good 
taste. 1 

In Great Britain all supervision is suspended during elec- 
tion campaigns, and the same is true of some other demo- 
cratic countries. Turkey a phenomenon in this respect 
boasts a total absence of supervision, but considering the 
undeveloped state of radio in that dictatorship, the boast 
need not be taken too seriously. 

Even non-political talks are subject to one kind of con- 
trol or another. Aside from the state-operated organizations, 
some, such as the Czechoslovak! an and Yugoslavian, must 
submit all manuscripts to government censorship, and in 
many cases there is a direct control of the actual words as 
they are spoken over the air. Far from regarding it as a 
disadvantage, most countries seem to approve of all this 
supervision and control. Broadcasting officials are glad to 
escape responsibility, both internally and especially vis-a-vis 
their foreign colleagues. Commendatore Gino Montefinale, 
radio chief of the Italian Ministry of Communications, giv- 
ing his expert opinion to an international committee, 2 made 

1 Holland, one of the eleven 'free' countries, is a curiosity: this little country con- 
tains five broadcasting organizations (not counting the short-wave service to the 
colonies); and two of these, owned respectively by the Catholics and the Socialists, 
permit political speeches favoring their own parties and principles only. 

a The Committee on Intellectual Co-operation, studying the question of broad- 
casting in the cause of peace. 

The Speech-Toisoned *Atr 369 

a point of saying that Italian radio programs are 'rigorously 
controlled by the state/ that even economic and financial 
news must be previously submitted to the government, and 
that 'nobody is allowed to speak before the microphone of 
the Italian stations unless the E.I.A.R. has previously ob- 
tained government permission/ 

It would seem, then, that there is precious little freedom 
on the European air. In the authoritarian states we know 
that the motive of control is political, and the object is the 
total elimination of opposition or criticism of the govern- 
ment, the country, and its institutions; further than that, 
the elimination of favorable comment on certain other coun- 
tries and their institutions, acts, and policies in short, 
complete dictation for nationalistic ends. 

On the other hand, in democratic countries such as the 
Scandinavian kingdoms, even state control does not neces- 
sarily mean the abrogation of free speech, any more than 
the state operation of posts and telegraphs necessarily means 
the censorship of communications. Denmark, for example, 
has a state-owned and operated broadcasting system; yet 
the control exercised over speakers is wholly on the basis of 
decency and good taste. Norway considers that all propa- 
ganda, whether political or religious, is out of place on the 
air; hence the only political speeches allowed are those at 
election time. The B.B.C., through its license arrangement 
with the British Post Office, is subject to a certain amount 
of parliamentary control. Yet there is no greater liberality 
anywhere in Europe when it comes to the broadcasting of 
controversial matter. Speakers from the extreme right to 
the extreme left, including Fascist and Communist, have 
had access to the microphone; though, as in the United 
States, one opinion must be balanced against another if 
violent protest and attack are to be avoided. 

But in the last analysis the air belongs to the governments, 
and it is the policies of the governments which determine the 
degree of freedom, or otherwise. In dictatorship countries, 
and in countries living in the shadow of dictatorship, freedom 
in the air does not exist. 

37 Hello ^America! 


So much for 'internal* broadcasting, subject to internal 
laws and regulations and policies. But strictly speaking no 
exclusively internal broadcasting exists: no way has yet been 
discovered by which ether waves can be restricted in their 
radius so as to conform, even remotely, to the eccentric 
boundaries of European states. This tremendous thing 
the power of radio waves to pass all man-made boundaries, 
both physical and spiritual was welcomed at first as a 
great new factor for peace. But soon after the setting-up of 
broadcasting systems in Europe it was found to be a new and 
incalculable element in the propagation of war. Indeed, the 
intercepting of radio waves was forbidden for some time after 
the World War; and this prohibition, dictated by fear, de- 
layed the setting-up of radio services in the European area. 

It must not be forgotten that this circumstance, as much 
as any, brought about the various measures of control which 
today give such an unsatisfactory picture of European 
broadcasting from the point of view of freedom. 'Thus it 
soon happened/ says Mr. A. E. Burrows, Secretary-General 
of the International Broadcasting Union, 'that most broad- 
casting organizations, certainly those in the highly complex 
and politically sensitive European area, found it necessary 
to ask for a previous submission of the manuscript from all 
invited to broadcast from their studios/ 1 

As early as 1926 the International Broadcasting Union, 
which without legislative power of any kind has brought 
order into the European ether and maintained it without 
government aid for upwards of eight years, negotiated a 
gentlemen's agreement to the effect that the member organ- 
izations would adopt all possible guarantees against trans- 
missions which would harm the spirit of co-operation and 
good international understanding. Ever since then an im- 
portant part of the Union's activities has been directed to 

1 'Broadcasting and Peace,' International Institute of Intellectual Co-operation, 
Paris, 1933. 

The Speech-Toisoned *Air 371 

the restriction of propaganda, hostile comment, and incite- 
ment of political unrest. 

The first flagrant example of hostile broadcasting came 
in 1926 and significantly enough as the result of the 
minorities question created by the more well-meaning of the 
statesmen responsible for the Treaty of Versailles. As a 
result of the plebiscite in Upper Silesia, decided in favor of 
Poland, more than 200,000 Germans found themselves on 
the Polish side of the border, and their alleged treatment by 
the Poles became the subject of border strife. The powerful 
German transmitter at Breslau took a hand in the fight by 
broadcasting to the expatriated Germans, and the Poles were 
furious. The result was that at Geneva Polish and German 
statesmen made faces at each other while fiery protests were 
aired. In the meantime German and Polish broadcasters, 
friendly co-members of the I.B.U., settled the matter by a 
regional agreement of non-aggression over the air the 
first step toward what was to become known as 'moral dis- 

This agreement has worked, as between Germany and 
Poland, to this day; and for years only minor infractions of 
the earlier gentlemen's agreement occurred, to be adjudi- 
cated by the I.B.U. Then in 1933 the Nazis came to power 
in Germany, and within a short time there started the radio 
war which has been described in Chapter XIV. It illumi- 
nated in lurid colors what hostile broadcasting really meant 
how it could precipitate a national tragedy in a neigh- 
boring country. The lesson was taken to heart if not by 
Germany, then by others. Austria, unable to come to terms 
with her most powerful neighbor, concluded a radio non- 
aggression pact on the Polish model with Czechoslovakia. 
And in far-away South America, six countries concluded 
agreements to the same effect. Broadcasting had gained 
recognition as a breeder of war. 

Hello ^America! 


This recognition was in fact already being accorded in 
more sinister ways. It started a race for power in the ether. 
At the beginning, when it was just a question of frontier sta- 
tions, the Union exerted its influence for the reduction of 
power; the new power competition concerned not merely 
single frontiers but the whole of Europe, for distance was no 
longer a serious handicap in the high-power era that had 
begun to dawn. 

In 1930 the 238 stations of Europe developed an aggregate 
power of 1813.9 kilowatts; in 1937 there were 336 medium 
and long-wave stations alone with an aggregate power of 
7290.8 kilowatts. The average power of the single station 
had nearly trebled in the intervening space of time. 

Overwhelmingly the greater part of this increase is ac- 
counted for by high-powered and super-powered stations, 
such as would be neither permitted nor practicable in the 
United States. This development is sensational when one 
realizes that in 1930 the loo-kilowatt station was unknown. 
Then, after the construction of the I2o-kilowatt stations 
at Warsaw and Prague in 1931 (presumably in answer to 
the previous erection of high-power stations in Russia), the 
race began. Stations went up to 100, to 120, even to 150 kil- 
owatts all over Europe, and Russia, to top everything, built 
Europe's most powerful station at Moscow, developing 
500 kilowatts. The following table will show more clearly 
what has happened within the short space of five years 
years which coincide with the recrudescence of aggressive 
nationalism and the greatest armaments race in history: 

1932 1937 

Stations of 20-29 kw. 9 16 

Stations of 30-39 kw. 4 7 

Stations of 40-49 kw. 2 I 

Stations of 50-59 kw. 8 9 

Stations of 60-69 kw. 6 9 

Stations of 70-80 kw. I 4 

Stations of 100-119 kw. 5 27 

Stations of 120-129 kw. 2 27 

Stations of 130-150 kw. o 13 

Stations of 200-500 kw. o 3 

Total high-power stations 37 116 

The Speech-Toisoned *Air 373 

The great propaganda machine was nearing completion: the 
voice of the modern 'champion 1 was acquiring dynamics 
commensurate with the power of the guns. 


But alongside the 'armament' of the ether, ways were 
being sought to ensure peace. The very people that set the 
new pace in transmitters the Poles also took the lead 
in moral disarmament at the World Disarmament Confer- 
ence in 1932. Bearing in mind their bitter experience in 
Silesia six years before, they made an ambitious proposal 
for a treaty affecting not only radio, but press, theatre, film, 
and school; and this met with such hostility on the part of 
various countries that it was abandoned, like all the other 
beautiful projects of that most ambitious effort of League 
of Nations history. 1 

But not quite. The League, foiled everywhere else, sal- 
vaged the idea of restricting hostile radio activity and com- 
missioned its subsidiary body, the Committee on Intel- 
lectual Co-operation, to work out a convention which could 
be adopted by the Powers. In 1933 the first text was sub- 
mitted by the League to the various governments. At a 
Conference held in the autumn of 1936 twenty-eight nations 
signed the convention, and eventually thirty-seven exe- 
cuted the final act, among them most European countries, 
including the U.S.S.R., but not including Germany and 

This 'Convention for the Use of Broadcasting in the 
Cause of Peace ' provides that the high contracting parties 
mutually undertake to prohibit the broadcasting of anything 
which is detrimental to good international understanding, 
or which will incite the population of any of each other's 
territories; undertake that nothing which is transmitted by 

1 Among the most bitter opponents was the American Government, which quite 
naturally saw in this scheme an attempt to curtail the sacrosanct right of free speech. 

374 Hello ^America! 

their broadcasters shall incite to war; that nothing harmful 
shall be broadcast which is known or ought to be known 
by the responsible persons to be incorrect. 

Like most international agreements, this first European 
radio treaty is as important for what it omits as for what it 
contains. The real disarmament' clauses, which the ideal- 
ists responsible for its promotion finally managed to embody 
in a series of attached recommendations, concern two very 
important things. One of them demands vigilance against 
broadcasts which, even though they may not incite a foreign 
population, may give offence to its sentiments national, 
political, religious, or social. The other calls particular atten- 
tion to transmissions in foreign languages. Recent history 
has shown that it is just these two points that have led to 
international conflict; yet to convert them into treaty obli- 
gations would undoubtedly mean a further restriction of 
the freedom of the air. 

Now, so long as this Convention is not signed by Germany 
and Italy it has, of course, very little practical value for 
Europe, since the nations who adhere to it are precisely 
those who are least likely to give offence in any case. But 
whatever its restraining influence may be, it does not affect 
the more important, because the more far-reaching, activi- 
ties of those Powers which have developed that last word in 
stentorian champions, the high-powered short-wave trans- 
mitter, with its literally unlimited range. This development 
has taken place, in very recent years, without legal or con- 
ventional restriction of any sort. No international regula- 
tion within the short-wave broadcasting band exists; a wild 
scramble for wave lengths has resulted in a wholly arbitrary 
and lopsided status quo. Politically this is a major problem 
in the world today. 

The Specch-Toisoned *Air 375 


The peculiarity of short-wave transmission, which at first 
was thought to be only of local importance, is that it is most 
efficacious over ultra-long distances thousands of miles 
and especially in transoceanic work. The direct wave, 
or so-called ground wave, fades after a short distance, but 
the sky wave, reflected from the Kennelly-Heaviside layer 
of the atmosphere, encircles the earth. Through the device 
of directional antennae (beam system), these waves can be 
aimed at any desired section of the globe, thereby increasing 
audibility in that region. Thus it came to be used for trans- 
oceanic communications. 

As the abstruse science of short-wave transmission came 
to be mastered (adaptability of certain waves to light or 
darkness, seasonal cycles of efficiency, sun spot activity, 
etc.), broadcasters began to exploit the new domain in 
hitherto unsuspected ways. In 1930 only three short-wave 
transmitters were used for broadcasting in Europe; today 
there are over forty sizable ones, and more are being built. 
Short waves require proportionately less power to project 
them: a two-kilowatt transmitter in Addis Ababa carried 
the Negus's voice to America, over seven thousand miles 
away. Yet many short-wave transmitters now in use are of 
the order of 40 and 50 kilowatts; others now being built will 
go up to 100 kilowatts and probably more. 

The value of this method of long-distance transmission in 
creating a new link between parts of a far-flung community 
like the British Empire is obvious. Great Britain therefore 
took the lead; the British Empire station at Daventry, with 
its six transmitters, reaches virtually every British dominion 
and possession with a carefully timed cycle of transmissions. 
But the Germans, whose * empire* is of different nature, 
were not far behind. Prior to the Olympic Games of 1936 
they increased their small but very efficient short-wave sta- 
tion at Zeesen to comprise eight powerful transmitters 
two more than the British thus making it the largest 

376 Hello ^America! 

and most potent propaganda machine in the world. After 
the Games were over, this giant station, by virtue of highly 
intelligent engineering and very astute publicity technique, 
became the most terrific agency for the spread of political 
doctrine that the world has ever seen. 


Having no colonial territories, the policy of the German 
short-wave service is, first, to reach 'colonies' of overseas 
Germans wherever they may be, make them conscious of 
their ties to the Fatherland, and preach to them the Nazi 
philosophy of national greatness; secondly, to promote 
'good will' and create German markets in competition with 
other exporting countries; and thirdly, to convince the rest 
of the world of German greatness and the justice of German 
aspirations. This is being done consistently in six languages 
and more, as required. It is carried out with tremendous 
thoroughness, broadcasts being aimed with great accuracy 
and efficiency at definite communities to be cultivated: 
German- Americans in the United States are showered with 
brotherly love from ' home ' ; the South Africans, in Afrikaans 
language, are mollified on German colonial claims; the South 
Americans, in Spanish and Portuguese, learn to revere Ger- 
man music and incidentally German machines; and so on. 
Nobody is forgotten. A series of broadcasts aimed at Tas- 
mania opening with 'Hello, Tasmania, beautiful Apple 
Isle* is but one example of this new 'spot* propaganda. 

Italy, both master and pupil to German Fascism, is not 
far behind the big brother in this field. The short-wave sta- 
tion at Prato Smeralda, always one of the best-functioning 
in Europe, is, according to official announcement, being sup- 
plemented by two short-wave transmitters of 100 kilowatts 
each and three of 50 kilowatts each, besides an ultra-short 
wave at Monte Mario. This will carry the Italian 'empire 
station ' far beyond its British prototype, although the Duce 

The Speech-Toisoned *Air 377 

still considers his empire in its infancy. The use to which 
these transmitters will be put is not in doubt. Even now the 
Rome transmitters emit a fairly steady stream of Fascist 
propaganda, mostly in the guise of news, history lessons, and 
reports regarding the march of Italian civilization in Africa 
and elsewhere. During 1937 the Italian short-wave station 
was broadcasting regularly in Italian, English, Spanish, 
Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Hindustani. As 
a result, the British felt themselves politically menaced in 
the Mediterranean, in India, in the Near and Far East, and 
along their trade routes everywhere, and soon announced 
their policy of world-wide broadcasting in six foreign lan- 
guages. For this purpose additional powerful short-wave 
stations have been authorized, a step which is bound to be 
answered by further increases in Germany, and so on. 

Other countries with colonial empires the Dutch, the 
French, the Belgians, and the Portuguese are all using 
short-wave broadcasting to provide their colonists and na- 
tives with news and entertainment from home. In none 
of these cases does there seem to be a determined effort at 
propaganda outside the legitimate scope. But France, 
which already broadcasts a cultural program to the United 
States, soon ordered the construction of a loo-kilowatt short- 
wave transmitter at Pontoise. The French Radio-Colo- 
niale, run by the Colonial Ministry, today transmits in 
French, English, Arabic, Italian, and Portuguese, all of 
which languages are spoken in French territories. Of non- 
colonial countries the first to enter the short-wave field is 
Czechoslovakia, with its excellent station at Podebrady 
(35 kilowatts), which at last accounts was broadcasting in 
Czech, Slovak, and for the United States in English. 1 

When we give all this activity its right name, we must not 
forget that propaganda, in the nationalistic countries of 
Europe, is regarded as an entirely praiseworthy endeavor. 
Even the regional non-aggression pacts specifically provided 
for a certain amount of legitimate propaganda. But much 
of this short-wave propaganda is not legitimate by any liberal 

1 The foregoing paragraphs are reproduced from the author's 'Radio as a Politi- 
cal Instrument,' published in Foreign Affairs for January, 1937. 

378 Hello ^America! 

standards, and some of it is openly hostile. Russia (which 
uses all the leading European languages in its short-wave 
transmissions) attacks Germany, and Germany retaliates; 
both accuse each other when giving * information 1 about 
Spain. The air is filled with recriminations of this sort. 


The only non-nationalist short-wave transmitters of any 
importance, at the present writing, are those of the Vatican, 
which is nevertheless ideological, and of Prangins, in Switzer- 
land, which for broadcasting purposes is leased to the League 
of Nations. This, the only neutral short-wave outlet in 
Europe, is available for program traffic to any foreign broad- 
caster who wishes to hire it and submit to the rules (due 
notice and submission of manuscript if required) ; and it has 
been largely used on this basis by the American radio 
chains. The League itself has made a practice of broad- 
casting bulletins of its own activities in the principal lan- 
guages at least once a week for some time. During the 
League Assembly of 1937 daily transmissions were broad- 
cast for the first time, and parts of the actual speeches were 
interpolated, either directly or by the recording method, to 
add program value. A broadcasting expert, lent by the 
B.B.C., was attached to the staff, and the new broadcasting 
budget provides for an increased service. No attempt was 
made, however, to broadcast League propaganda, or in any 
way to counter the propaganda of anti-League countries; in 
other words, international democracy is even less vigorous 
than the national democratic governments in defense of its 
principles in the air. 

Apart from these mild, academic effusions the earth's 
ether is suffused with political venom, projected with ever- 
increasing efficiency by those countries which profess anti- 
democratic creeds. The dictator countries have, roughly, 
pre-empted thirty out of the ninety-four effective short-wave 

The Speech-Toisoned JLir 370, 

frequencies now operated for broadcasting, with an aggre- 
gate of 1,033,000 watts out of the available 1,484,000 watts 
of short-wave power in the world (1938). In assaying the 
opposing forces in this 'war of words/ and comparing the 
effectiveness of the authoritarian stentors with the demo- 
cratic ones, it must also be remembered that the advantages 
of initiative and unscrupulousness are on the side of the 
former. It is not likely that any of the Fascist dictatorships 
will sign or ratify the 'moral disarmament* pact. Their 
mouths as well as their hands are therefore free. 



TWO main currents of thought were reshaping the social 
fabric of the western world in the decades preceding the 
World War, both issuing from the materialistic philosophy of 
the nineteenth century. One found its expression in scientific 
discovery and invention which promised great material and 
moral benefit to mankind. The other, postulating a new con- 
ception of human relationships, resulted in a re-awakening of 
the social conscience, increased the class struggle and finally 
precipitated international strife. Both of these thought- 
forces responded in the last analysis to the deepest needs of 
human nature: the mitigation of loneliness and the dispelling 
of fear. 

The inventions of the late nineteenth and early twentieth 
centuries tended to bring people closer together. They centred 
on efforts for faster transportation and better communica- 
tion. The development of motor traction the automobile, 
the aeroplane helped to annihilate space; telegraph, tele- 
phone and finally radio brought cities, states and continents 
within the hearing of each other. The last remnants of spirit- 
ual separation were being removed. The integration of man 
on this planet had begun. 

Political activity of the corresponding period was bent, 
first, on securing the benefit of the new inventions for nations 
and for special groups within nations, and to the claiming of 
a greater share in these benefits by the masses whom indus- 
trial expansion had separated from their tools. Internation- 
ally, politics supported the struggle for material supremacy 

382. Hello ^America! 

by tightening the countries' grip on colonies, on raw materi- 
als, on means of scientific and industrial exploitation, on 
markets for the new and ampler products of science and 
labor at home. 

Science, then, was tending to bring men together; politics, 
to tear them apart. It is possible to view this era as a race 
between the two. If science unhindered by economic 
strife could have perfected its devices, could have adapted 
the new tools to the works of peace, we might conceivably 
not have had the war. But political thought was not alive to 
the new implications, either of science or of social change, and 
war came. Science was subjected to the purposes of war and 
made it more destructive than ever before. Aviation and 
radio, the latest gifts of inventive genius, were harnessed to 
the war machine; both played their grim part in the struggle; 
both were perfected under the stress of military demand; 
both received a new and sinister direction through war. 
Science helped to decide the war, but war solved no prob- 
lems; it created new ones for science to solve. 

Radio was still in its infancy when war broke out, but its 
beneficent works of peace had already written a glorious page 
in history. In 1909 the radio telegraph saved the lives of the 
761 passengers of the sinking American steamer Republic, 
three years later 703 more from the ill-fated Titanic, and 
other remarkable feats of salvage followed in quick suc- 
cession. A new type of hero, the marine wireless operator, 
was presented to the world. In 1911 the first radio telephone 
service was established between Berlin and Vienna; in 1915 
the human voice, carried by ether waves, had spanned the 
ocean, and the trans-Atlantic radio telephone was in sight. 
Meanwhile, in 1910, the De Forest radiophone had relayed 
the voices of Caruso and Destinn from the Metropolitan 
Opera in New York to listeners outside, portending a great 
expansion of artistic enjoyment. In 1913 a year before the 
war the first tentative radio transmissions of music were 
instituted in Brussels, and broadcasting had virtually begun. 

Epilogue: Toward the Future 383 


But the War cut short- these peaceful endeavors; the wire- 
less telegraph was used, not for friendly messages but to carry 
military intelligence through space; the radio telephone was 
used for establishing contact between men-of-war, between 
battleship and shore, and for directing the aeroplanes which, 
soaring overhead, spread destruction with new and terrifying 

Since then radio technique has advanced with gigantic 
strides. Industry and business are exploiting it for profit; 
governments for offense. Radio, which might have been free 
the freest mode of communication yet discovered was 
shackled; after the experience of the War no European gov- 
ernment could permit its unhampered development; no 
country in the world could afford to ignore its sinister 
potentialities. Aside from its peaceful functions it is being 
used to spread propaganda and hatred through the world. 
Radio communications are being perfected and organized to 
be capable of terrific efficiency in 'the next war/ The 
Powers who in 1914 were isolated from the outer world 
because their cable communications were cut, are fortifying 
themselves against a similar loading of the dice next time. 
'The greater the number of channels of communication under 
a country's control, the stronger the position of that nation 
in the event of war/ says O. W. Riegel in Mobilizing for 
Chaos.* The most important channels of communication 
today are in the air. 

These ether channels have the advantage, not enjoyed by 
other methods of communication, that they cannot be 
effectively cut. They can be interfered with over a limited 
field, but not consistently, since the unlimited possibility of 
changing frequencies would require foreknowledge of every 
change. Secrecy, moreover, can be maintained by the tech- 
nique of 'scrambling' speech, which, again, is susceptible to 
infinite variation. Broadcast messages between governments 

1 Yale University Press, 1934. 

384 Hello ^America! 

and their agents in hostile or neutral countries can, under 
modern conditions, be picked up over thousands of miles, 
with instruments so minute as to escape detection. A mere 
bar of music or a prearranged quotation from literature might 
convey important instructions to those in possession of the 
code. Thus, no country in the world is safe from the tentacles 
of war. The aeroplane will find out the last noncombatant; 
the radio will penetrate every defense of neutrality. 

The Civil War in Spain has shown in a small way to what 
other uses radio may be put in war. Military authorities took 
over the radio immediately after hostilities broke out, and 
hostile propaganda was emitted from stations on both sides 
in a steady stream. General Queipo de Llano, the 'broad- 
casting general' of the insurgents, quickly became as im- 
portant as the generals at the front. All pre-war arrange- 
ments regarding wave lengths were thrown overboard, 
regardless of the rights of combatants and neutrals alike. 
The defenders of the Alcazar were prevented by Loyalist 
'jamming' from receiving messages informing them that 
relief was on the way. Madrid broadcast on Seville's wave 
length, to drown the rebel propaganda; and the rebels tried 
to jam Madrid. Broadcasting to the opposing army by means 
of loud-speakers in the trenches has also become a feature of 
modern war. Radios were placed in trenches and by means 
of a 'loud-speaker offensive' military leaders sought to 
spread terror and demoralization in the opposing ranks. The 
sinister potentialities of radio defy our imagination, which 
has not grasped even its full possibilities in peace. 


What of the future? Will science, having lost the first heat 
in the race, recoup the balance in the next? It is barely 
possible that science may eventually discover some way to 
disperse hostile radio waves and screen populations from 
verbal attack, just as it aims to screen them against poison 

Epilogue: Toward the Future 385 

gas. But failing this rather unlikely consummation, it would 
seem that the only course would be to meet like with like, 
propaganda with propaganda, attack with attack. 

The dictatorship states, as we have seen, have already per- 
fected their machine. Democracies, at the moment of writ- 
ing, have made only a half-hearted effort at retaliation. In 
Great Britain the government has taken a hand by giving to 
the B.B.C. a mandate to broadcast in foreign languages to the 
neutral world. The United States government, afraid of the 
charge of authoritarian leanings, is leaving the initiative to 
private hands. Private radio, sponsored by industry, is 
assumed to be in a better position for this patriotic service 
than the government, which is the elected spokesman of the 
people's will . . . 

In a world divided into two ideological camps what chance 
has democracy against dictatorship, projecting its 'ideals' 
and its own idealized portrait to the world? 

Democracy cannot adopt totalitarian methods or modes of 
expression without escaping the charge of totalitarianism 
itself. Its only way to counter the verbal batteries is by 
words of tolerance and truth. The truth may not always be 
pleasant, or complimentary to the country itself, but nothing 
else will carry conviction in the long run. Biased news and 
partisan argument will not do. Democracy cannot afford 
to justify itself by ready-made doctrine; shibboleths and slo- 
gans are not enough. It can demonstrate its freedom only by 
acting free by admitting differences of opinion, even con- 
fessing mistakes. The best it can do is to show that, far from 
being ' bankrupt ' it has genuine vitality, a will to progress, a 
capacity for adjustment to social needs, for neighborliness 
and generosity. Campaigns of propaganda and untruth in 
the end are likely to cancel each other out; democracy has 
nothing better to show than faith in itself. 

But there is more than the spoken word. Propaganda, 
political as well as commercial, is made palatable by enter- 
tainment, by the 'harmony of sweet sounds/ When those 
who listen are to be rewarded, or enticed to listen again, 
what do they hear? Beethoven symphonies from Germany, 
Verdi operas from Italy, Russian folksongs from Soviet land. 

386 Hello ^America! 

By drawing on the artistic glories of the past, these countries 
lay claim to a civilization superior to any other. Rightly or 
wrongly, the word has gone forth that the cultural content 
of European radio is higher than our own. Whatever the 
treatment meted out to political minorities, the intellectual 
minorities are said to be catered for as well as the great mass. 
Yet in this the radio of the western democracies can compete 
on more than equal terms. Like the Fascist countries they 
may draw with equal right on that great heritage which only 
the free spirits of a better time could have produced. Like 
them they can disseminate the cultural gifts which today are 
the legacy of all instead of the privilege of the few. 

Owing to economic stress and politico-racial persecution an 
overwhelming majority of the world's eminent artists are 
gathered together in the democratic countries of the world. 
The greatest singers and instrumentalists, the finest orches- 
tras, the most gifted writers are here, ready and willing to 
devote their talents and their wisdom to the spiritual 
recreation and enlightenment of all the people. To release 
these intellectual forces for the benefit of the world and in 
defense of freedom is, it seems to me, the noblest mission of 
radio in a democratic society. 

Here, and in radio's ability to integrate the community, to 
bridge the gap between high and low, rich and poor, nation 
and nation, man and man, lies its incalculable power for 
good its greatest potential contribution to the unifying of 
mankind. Science has solved many problems of war; will 
science, allied with art and the higher manifestations of the 
human spirit, ultimately solve the problem of peace? 

In the preceding chapters I have attempted to give a pic- 
ture of radio in Europe, as it is today. In the earlier sections 
of this book I have recounted my own experiences with an 
experiment which in a modest way represents a step in the 
direction of better international understanding. If a few 
more people in the English-speaking world have, by means 
of that experiment, become conscious of Europe's problems 
and a little more familiar with its personalities and its genius; 
if, by the same token a few additional thousands of people in 

Epilogue: Toward the Future 387 

Europe have become aware of America's problems, as well as 
its unlimited possibilities, the effort has been justified. 

The exchange thus inaugurated is going on. The American 
radio chains are rebroadcasting a certain number of events 
from Europe every week; European countries are rebroad- 
casting an increasing number of American programs all the 
time. If these programs follow a little too closely the drift 
of the news, this is to be expected, with the ephemeral appeal 
of radio as it is today. But with a more homogeneous organi- 
zation of radio programs in America, in the direction of useful 
information and genuine enlightenment, the things that are 
of lasting value are bound to be forced to the front. 

On the other hand, with the gradual perfection of short- 
wave technique and the constant increase in the use of short- 
wave receivers, the ordinary listener will become increasingly 
Europe-conscious and in time world-conscious on his 
own account. When that time comes, some way may have 
been found by which the treasures of the human mind will 
come to us without strident political accompaniment. Then, 
too always supposing that there will be peace may 
Europe, in the still undreamed-of splendors of the future, 
receive from America a complete or at least a representa- 
tive projection of American civilization at its best. 



Albert I, King, 156-158, 260, 263-264 

Alexander, King, 153, 316 

Allen, Jay, 228 

Allison, Wilmer, 184-186 

Aloisi, Baron Pompeo, 334-336 

Andorra, 300-301, 348 

Angell, Sir Norman, 24, 25 

Arlen, Michael, 45 

Arnold, Ernst, 284 

Astor, Lady, 237 

Atholl, Duchess of, 246 

Attlee, Major, 29-30 

Baden-Powell, Lord, 161 

Baldwin, Stanley, 37, 97-99, 144, 235, 


Barrie, Sir James, 38 
Bartlett, Vernon, 228-229 
Bate, Fred, 253 
Baum, Vicki, 48-49 
Bayan, Malaku, 218 
Beaverbrook, Lord, 237, 240 
Bedloes Island, 309-314 
Bellows, Henry A., 17 
Benes, Eduard, 104, 178 
Beresford, J., 189 
Bernard, Prince, 159 
Beveridge, Sir William, 31 
Bezzi-Scala, Countess Maria Cristina, 67 
Bingham, Ambassador Robert Worth, 94 
Binyon, Laurence, 35, 165 
Blake, George, 262-263 
Blancart, Commandant, 252 
Blum, Leon, no, 332-333 
Blunt, Dr. Frank, 234 
Bolitho, Hector, 166 
Boris, King, 154 
Borotra, 184-186 
Boston, Lincolnshire, 278 

Boylan, Mrs., 325 

Bradford, Bishop of, 234 

Braillard, Raymond, 343, 344 

Bredow, Dr. Hans von, 344, 351-352 

Briand, Aristide, 7, 10, 104, 107-108 

Bridie, James, 58, 60 

Britain, Sir Edgar, 261 

British Broadcasting Company, 13-17, 


Broadcasting House, 18 
Briining, 84, 115-116, 121 
Bullitt, 310-314 
Burrows, A. E., 161 n., 370 

Canterbury, Archbishop of, 144, 246 

Carnegie, Andrew, 277 

Carol, King, 154, 254-259 

Carpendale, Sir Charles, 347 

Casals, Pablo, 193 

Cecil, Viscount of Chelwood, 19-22, 24, 

Chesterton, Gilbert Keith, 42-45, 51, 62 

Chimay, Prince Caramay de, 261 

Christian X, King, 155, 156, 260 

Churchill, Winston, 235, 237, 240 

Ciano, Count, 217, 293 

Clemenceau, Georges, 107 

Clinton-Baddeley's, 276 

Coates, Albert, 54 

Colin, Dr., 159 

Columbia Broadcasting Company, repre- 
sentatives of, 4; scoop Prince of Wales, 
13-14; British affiliation, 16 

Cook, Arthur, 167 

Cosgrave, William, 99, 248-249 

Coward, Noel, 45 

Cracow, 288-289 

Crozier, Frank Percy, 28 

Curtius, Doctor, 69, 116 



Czeija, Director-Gen., 204 

Dawes, Gen. Charles H., 91 
Day, Clarence, 64 
Detection Club, 44 
Dickens, Charles, 42-43, 276 
Disarmament Conference, 20 
Dollfuss, Engelbert, 194-206 
Doumergue, Gaston, 89-91, in, 331 
Drinkwater, John, 38, 240 
Dunfermline, 277 
Dunmow Flitch trial, 271 

Earhart, Amelia, 180-184 

Eastman, Max, 137 

Economic Conference, 30 

Eden, Anthony, 106, 107 

Edward VIII, 7, 98-99, 101, 160-174, 

231-246; see also Wales, Prince of 
Einstein, Professor Albert, 55 
Eliot, T. S., 38 
Elisabeth, Queen, 343 
Elliott, Gertrude, 329 
Empress of Britain, 13 
Epp, Von, 82 

Ferric", 343 

Feuchtwanger, Lion, 48 

Fey, Major, 194-195, 201-202, 205 

Fischer, Betty, 284 

Flandin, Pierre-^tienne, 107-109 

Floriot, Mile., 305 

Forbes-Robertson, Sir Johnston, 328-330 

Franco, Gen., 224, 226, 229 

Frank, Dr., 193 

Frauenfeld, 204 

Fuller, Hon. Hector, 252 

Furtwangler, 193 

Galsworthy, John, 45 

Gandhi, Mahatma, 123-134 

Gatty, Harold, 180 

George, David Lloyd, 91 

George V, King, opening Naval Confer- 
ence, 6, 12; Gandhi, 125; personality 
of, 144-152; broadcasts, 145-152; 
death, 173; also, 231, 270, 279, 299 

George VI, King, 101, 152-153, 279-281 

Gianfranceschi, Father, 68, 74-78 

Gibbons, Floyd, 217-218, 226 

Giesecke, Dr., 201 

Goebbels, Dr. Josef, 208, 352-353 

Goldschmidt, Robert, 343 

Goring, Hermann, 87, 122 

Gould, 141 

Grandi, Dino, 7, 107, 178 

Graves, Robert, 37 

Grey, Viscount of Fallodon, 22-24 

Grinzing, 285-286 

Gunther, John, 202-205 

Gustaf V, 155 

Haakon V, 155 

Haba, Karel, 325 

Habicht, 200-201, 204 

Hadamowsky, Eugen, 352 

Halifax, Lord, 243 

Hall, Raymond, 290 

Hammar, Ernst, 218, 221 

Hanfstaengl, Ernst, 'Putzi,' 84-87 

Hard, William, 4, 6, 8, 31 

Harding, Warren G., 191 

Hawariat, Tacle, 334-335 

Hearst, Wm. Randolph, 65, 69, 70, 223 

Heinzen, Ralph, 250 

Henderson, Arthur, 178 

Henry, Bill, 190 

Herriot, lidouard, 105-106, 108 

Hindenburg, Col. Oskar von, 114 

Hindenburg, Gen. Paul von, 82, 84, 113- 
117, 121, 122 

Hitler, Adolf, and Mussolini, 83; first 
broadcast, 84-89; week-end surprise, 
106; rise of, 115, 117, 121, 122, 192, 193; 
Olympic Games, 188, 189; Austria, 
204; Saar victory, 211, 215; also, 192, 


Hoare, Sir Samuel, 124, 127-128, 334 
Hohenzollern, Kaiser Wilhelm, 117-122 
Holland, 294-296 

Hoover, Pres. Herbert, 59, 250, 251 
Horder, Lord, 96 
Housman, Laurence, 128 
Huberman, 193 
Husing, Ted, 188 
Huxley, Aldous, 45 
Hymans, M. Paul, 179 

International Broadcasting Union, 345- 

Israels, Josef, 221, 222 

Joan of Arc, 60, 6 1 

Jordan, Max, 253-261, 290, 338-339 



Jordan, Phillip, 228, 239 
Juliana, Princess, 159 

Kaltenborn, H. V., 224-225, 281-282 

Keats, 275 

Keynes, J. Maynard, 31 

Keys, ceremony of, 271 

Kingsley Hall, 126-134 

Kipling, Rudyard, 37-38, 98 

Knox, Geoffrey, 209-210 

Lansbury, George, 24, 30, 169 
Laski, Prof. Harold, 239 
Laval, Jos6, 249 
Laval, Pierre, 136, 249-253 
Lebrun, Albert, 310, 312-314 
Lenin, Nikolay, 137 
Leopold III, 157, 158 
Lester, Doris, 126 
Lester, Muriel, 126, 129, 132 
Liberty, statue of, 309-314 
Liechtenstein, 298-299, 348 
Lindbergh, Charles A., 180 
Litvinoff, 107 

Llano, Gen. Queipo de, 227, 384 
Lodge, Sir Oliver, 26-28 
London, Bishop of, 9 
Lothian, Lord, 31 
Lovelock, Jim, 1 89 
Lubinsky, see Trotsky 
Ludendorff, Gen., 23, 122 
Lupescu, Madame, 257, 258 
Luxemburg, 297-298, 361 

MacDonald, Ramsay, Naval Conference, 

5> 7> \> J 7 8 ; statesmanship, 93-97; 

Gandhi, 134; also, 101, 108, 134, 151 
Mais, S. P. B., 1 68 
Makatsuki, 7 
Malvya, Pandit, 129 
Marconi Company, 348 
Marconi, Senator, 4 n., 67-68, 70, 74, 76, 


Marie, Queen, 257, 258 
Marken, Island of, 295 
Mary, Queen, 145, 231, 24! 
Masaryk, Jan, 102-103 
Masaryk, Pres. Thomas Garrigue, 102- 

104, 108, 254 
Masefield, John, 34-36 
Matsudaira, 7 
Matthieu, Gaston, 77 

Mayo, Katherine, 127 

McLean, Robinson, 218-221 

Medica, Jack, 1 89 

Meissner, Dr., 114 

Melba, 344 

Mellon, Andrew, 182 

Menen, Empress, 216 

Miklas, Wilhelm, 69 

Milton, John, 275-276 

Monte Carlo, 293-294 

Montefinale, Commendatore Gino, 368 

Montmartre, 304-309 

Montserrat, monastery of, 319-320 

Mowrer, Sir Samuel, 334, 335 

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, 286-288 

Murray, Ralph, 212 

Mussolini, Benito, first broadcast, 65, 88; 
Lateran Treaty, 66; interview with, 
80-83; Dollfuss, 197; Ethiopia, 216, 
223; also, 136, 154, 204, 299 

Mutual Broadcasting Co., 236 

Naida, Sarojini, 129 

National Broadcasting Company, repre- 
sentatives of, 4; policy, 15-17 
Naval Conference, London 1930, 3; 6-9; 


Newton, Isaac, 55 
Nicolson, Harold, 33 
Northcliffe, Lord, 4 

O'Brien, Honorable Beatrice, 67 
Ogilvie, 256, 258 
Owens, Jesse, 188 

Paley, William S., 18, 32, 79 

Papen, Franz von, 84, 116-117, 121 

Patel, Vithalbhai, 124 

Patou, Jean, 303-304 

Peace Pledge Movement, 28-29 

Philip, Percy, 331-332 

Picard, Prof., 260 

Pickwick, 276 

Pilsudski, Marshal, 289 

Pius XI, Pope, 66-79 

Planetta, Otto, 206 

Polignac, Marquis de, 260 

Pompeii, 290-291 

Pons, Lily, 261 

Ponsonby, Lord, 24, 30, 239 

Post, Wiley, 1 80 

Preteceille, Ogier, 226 


Priestley, J. B., 46-47, 49, 240 
Putzi, see Hanfstaengl, Ernst 

Quakers, 128 

Queen Mary, 261-263 

Rambert, M. Maurice, 347 

Reinhardt, Max, 86, 286, 287 

Reith, Sir John, 17-19, 244 

Remembrance, Festival of, 165-166 

Rhondda, Lady, 51 

Ribbentrop, Joachim von, 107, 109 

Rickenbacker, Capt., 261 

Rickett, F. W., 333-334 

Riegel, O. W., 383 

Rintelen, Dr., 205 

Ripon, 276-277 

Roosevelt, Claes, 296 

Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, Economic 
Conference, 30, 31-32; Inter-American 
Conference, 234; Bedloes Island broad- 
cast, 310, 312-314; also, 162, 296 

Roosevelt, Theodore, 24 

Rocque, Col. de la, 89, 331 

Rothermere, Lord, 237, 240 

Ruggles, Carl, 337-338 

Runciman, 30 

Russell, George, 56 

St. James's Palace, 9-10 

Salzburg, 286-288 

Samuel, Sir Herbert, 29 

San Marino, 299-300 

Schacht, Dr., 200-201 

Schleicher, Gen. von, 84, 114, 117, 121 

Schnabel, 193 

Schuschnigg, Frau von, 284 

Seipel, Monsignor, 198 

Selassie, Emperor Haile, 218-224, 333 

Seville, Holy Week in, 318 

Shakespeare, William, 275 

Shaw, George Bernard, 9, 12, 44, 49, 50- 

64, 88, 360 

Sheppard, Dick, 24-25, 28-29 
Sheppard, Very Rev. Hugh Richard, 

D.D., see Sheppard, Dick 
Shrammel Quartet, 284 
Siena, 291 
Simpson, Mrs. Wallis Warfield, 10, 172- 

174, 231-246 

Slade, Madeline, 125, 129 
Snagge, John, 262 

Snowden, Lord, 30, 32 

Sobieski, John, 288-289 

Sokolnikoff, 57-58 

Sortavala, 317 

Southwood, L. F., 189 

Sovrani, Giovanni, 299 

Stalin, Joseph, 88, 135, 143 

Stamp, Sir Josiah, 31 

Stauning, Thorvald, 140-141 

Steed, H. Wickham, 9 

Steele, John, 249 

Stephens, Helen, 189 

Stewart, Malcolm, 234 

Stimson, Henry L., 5, 9, 178 

Strabolgi, Lord, 241 

Strauss, Richard, 286-287 

Svinhufvud, Prof., 155 

Swing, Raymond Gram, 33, 181, 192 

Talbot, Rev. Neville, 165 
Tardieu, Andre, 7, 89, in, 178, 253 
Tennyson, Lord Alfred, 275 
Titulescu, Nicolai, 316 
Toscanini, Arturo, 287-288, 360 
Trotsky, Leon, 123, 135-143 
Tunis, John R., 185 
Twain, Mark, 56 

Valera, Eamon de, 99-102, 249 

Van Loon, Hendrik, 295 

Vannoux, Pere, 306-307 

Van Zeeland, Paul, 107, 109 

Vatican, broadcasting station, 67, 75-79 

Venice, 291-293 

Vesuvius, 338-339 

Victor Emanuel, King, 154, 223 

Vienna, 283-285 

Vivian, Harold, 6 

Voigt, Frederick, 212 

Wales, Prince of, 11-14, I 4^~ I 47; see 

Edward VIII 

Walker, Mayor Jimmie, 252 
Wallace, Edgar, 47-48 
Walpole, Hugh, 47 
Wambaugh, Sarah, 209, 212 
Washington, George, 22, 23, 103-104 
Washington, Lawrence, 278 
Wedgwood, Col., 235, 240 
Wells, H. G., 38-42 
Whalen, Hon. Grover, 261 
Wheeler-Bennett, John, 84 



Whi taker, John T., 217-218 

Wichart, Pepi, 284 

Wiegand, Karl von, 69 

Wile, Frederick William, 4, 6, 8, 9, 178, 

J 79 2 53 

Wilhelmina, Queen, 158-159 
Wilkinson, Ellen, 233, 242 
Williams, A. F., 189 
Wilson, Woodrow, 119, 1 80 

Wordsworth, William, 273-275 

World Disarmament Conference, 19, 178 

Wrench, Sir Evelyn, 31 

Yen, Dr. W. W., 179 

York, Duke of, 241; see George VI 

Ziffern, Lester, 228 
Zweig, Stefan, 287